What a difference a day makes! Slept really well last night and woke feeling more refreshed. Morning routine was pretty much the same as yesterday, only difference was dropping over night bag as we're in a different hotel today.
A chilly started again this morning with another neutralized 5 mile section to the bottom of the Saisies, first hill. The neutralized start was quite chaotic, there was lots of road furniture and traffic to navigate, I didn't make much of an effort to get through all the riders to the front as it generally evens out once the timing starts on the first hill.
I learnt so valuable lessons from yesterdays ride, the primary one was not to go too hard on the first climb, so I settled in to a nice pace well within myself and steadily worked my way up the peloton, I also got passed by a few people but didn't stress and kept to my game plan.
I knew after the summit there was a really nice, long downhill followed by a long valley floor section, after getting isolated yesterday, I was very aware of making sure I got in to a group. On the lead-up to the summit I could see a couple of good size groups in front of me so I had a decision to make; burn some matches to catch them or trust my descending abilities to be able to catch them for the bottom.
I gambled on the latter and it paid off really well, it was a beautiful flowing descent and I must have passed 50 people and got in to a good sized group just as we hit the valley floor.
The ride along the valley was a bit crazy as half the people didn't want to do any work in the front and quite a few didn't really know how to pace line! A quick rest stop to replenish water and drop my gilet and arm warmers before hitting the next climb.
As we started up Montagny I felt pretty good and stayed with my plan to ride at a good steady pace and keep my matches dry for the grueling 14 mile final climb. Again, I was happy with my performance and kept well within my power range, again I passed a few folks and got passed by others. Going over the top there was a shorter descent but I managed to catch or pass a good number of people.
The other mistake I made yesterday was not fueling properly on the ride, something I'm usually very good at but got it horribly wrong yesterday. Today I feel I got it right, I ate and drank plenty which put me in a good spot for the long climb up Col du Loze.
Not only is it a really long, sustained climb, the top 4 miles are mostly in the double digits with one section getting to 18% and most of the rest 11 - 15%. With this in the back of my mind I kept with the formula that had been working for me all day and had enough to attack the top section and pass a few riders on the way. The top mile was a killer, step and twisty, I was well in to the pain cave at that point but just kept digging. I even managed a very short 'sprint' at the end to pass one guy just before the line.
I was lucky I didn't cramp at all on the climbs, but when I stopped at the top both my legs went in to a cramp frenzy and there wasn't much I could do about it cause I couldn't bend a let to get off the bike so I was just stood there in the middle of the road looking like a lunatic :-)
Once the cramp finally subsided I took on some fluid then turned around and enjoyed the descent back to Courchevel where the ride village and lunch were waiting. Lunch was a big helping of chicken pasta, lentils and fruit - fantastic. (I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture).
Most people on the tour are staying in Courchevel, but our tour guide has us 11 miles down the mountain in the small town of Brides les Bains. This is actually a genius move as it's quite near the first climb and timed section tomorrow; so rather than having to do the rather spectacular and fast descent in a neutralized caravan of 400+ riders in the morning chill we were able to do it in the blistering sunshine and enjoy every minute of it :-)
Once we got back to the hotel it was a quick shower followed by a massage by the pool and a quick dip (as I was there).
All in all a really enjoyable day.
My results were:
Stage: 86 overall / 34 in age group
GC: 88 overall / 35 in age group
Statistics for full ride, inc. non-timed and ride back to the village:
Distance: 93.5 miles
Avg Speed: 16 mph
Elevation Gain: 10,748 ft
There's a very long way to go and tomorrow is the queen's stage so it's gonna be a really tough day!
Tune in tomorrow for then next installment.... that's all folks!