Stage two was now here, a 52 miles road race, with 4000ft of climbing in what was described as a rolling stage. Basically a long 7 mile climb then a fast and wide downhill section, followed by a few punchy hills, then do that again for 3 times, and finish at the top of the climb. We again, arrived with enough time to drive the course, i'm glad we did, because that first climb just kept on going, it wasn't very steep at any section really, however it was relentless, with a sharp 9% kick at the top just before the finish at 1km to go. We all arrived back the the race HQ slightly nervous (yet again) about what lay ahead of us.
After the race briefing we were off, a very short 800m neutralised section then once on the climb the flag was dropped at the race started. The pace was fast, silly fast, I however was feeling very good, was in the front group, and moving up towards the top 10 riders at times, there were no sections on this climbs where some real hurt can be put down, ie: 10% gradients, but the constant climbing did mean a few people drifted back. At the top of the climb we had averaged 24.5mph! The climb was only 3.3% average, but still... The descent was equally as mental as we hit 45mph and at one time I saw 50mph... I felt great and was in the front group group still, maybe top 20 at this stage, I was however being very careful, the last thing I wanted was a crash! I was loving this. Then BANG. Is that me? Yeah bugger... front blowout at 45mph in the group was scary. I slowed, wobbling and staying upright being now the main aim and eventually stopped as the Peloton swished past and were gone, long gone, this was going to be a lonely race now. I waited for what hat seemed like forever, but was probably only 30 seconds for neutral service. They stopped, gave me a wheel and I was off again. They caught up with me and paced me for a few miles and then had to leave me on the climb to help others. I was on my own now, and as I reached the top of the climb the weather changed from a mild 19 degrees to a fairly wet 19 degrees. The rain came hard, and to be honest, at this stage I was almost glad not to be in the bunch, especially with carbon wheels, and nervous riding. Have still no idea where I was in terms of the lead group was hard, I didn't know if they were just around the corner or miles away, that said I felt good still and was passing dropped riders, so just decided to push on and try and minimise the amount of time I was going to loose on the stage. It wasn't until halfway around the 3rd and penultimate lap that I found some riders. I got to these 5 guys and we worked together abit, but they were dropped riders, so in reality i'm not sure if they helped with the pace, nevertheless I stayed with them, save a bit in my legs for the next few days, I had seemed to get my fueling spot on and now just as we came onto the 4th lap, and the final climb I had eaten 1 bar and 2 gels, and about 1.5 bottles of electrolyte stuff, I started to maybe get a bit hungry on the climb, but given we were only 2/3 miles from the finish I just dug in, clicked down a gear and turned, the 5 riders still with me, and taking turns as we upped the pace. We got to the 1km to go mark, a sharp climb and then a bit of flat and rolled across the finish line some 5-7 mins behind the lead group, maybe a bit more. I was gutted, but taking the positives from the race I felt strong throughout, I was climbing well, onto tomorrow, which is hillier, but then there is also a TT in the afternoon with a 1 mile finishing climb. We'll see what the legs, body and mind are saying this time tomorrow.
In terms of the rest of London Phoenix, Ben and Joe finishing in the top group, maybe top 20? Simon maybe 30 seconds behind that.