The previous night we had discussed tactics, and following my previous shocker of a day I quite fancied going for the KOM on one of the climbs, Ben agreed this would be a good idea and would be happy to help where he could.
We had managed to arrive at the start and race briefing with loads of time, and as a result managed to line up behind the lead car, which given the neutralised section was 12k was pretty perfect, being in the bunch as people jostle for position with the constant surges and braking from the car wasn't something I wanted to experience. We set off (feeling pretty pro to be honest) and rolled out the town and onto the open roads, a few small climbs in the neutralised section, these hurt and we weren't even racing. Yeah, cool.
The flag dropped and instantly the pace upped to 50kph, we were off. I was now probably 20th rider on the road, and after yesterday, apart from trying for the KOM, my other aim was simply survival, and to not loose any more time to the GC. The first hill arrived and the pace was high, I moved up a little, but I didn't have the legs for this and the current KOM holder was flying, along with plenty of others, it seems that whilst I'm a good climbing so are most of the riders in this race, great. Straight over the top and onto a fairly technical but fast descent. Short distance from the bottom was the second climb at 25k, maybe I could try for the KOM here, or maybe not as it happens, I was in teh wrong position middle of the peloton and didn't have the legs, the pace was again pretty relentless here and as we crested the hill riders were being shelled, I looked around and there was only 20 or so behind me, crap. Then there was a gap in front of me, crap. Pay attention! I chased and got back on for the top section as this was quite lumpy, and was safely back in the bunch. A very fast descent with some awesome hairpins followed, and then a 10k section of a dual carridgeway, this was both quite cool, but also a bit scary as trucks thumped past us at 50mph! I knew that after the climbs the remaining 40k was fairly flat and if I was with the peloton i'd be safe and hopefully not loose any time. Some time passed, some more Ks passed (quite quickly) some bars were eaten and we were flying, and the second section of DC we were motoring along at 45-50kph, this was quality. We came off the DC and now onto a minor road, only 5k from the finish (thankfully) I was feeling ok at this point, I was nowhere in terms of stage result mind. Then 3k to go a I see a rider flying through a hedge, and see Ben go down, crap. A few riders get caught behind this, me included, and the peloton breaks up, leaving a small gap of maybe 5 seconds. I chased and joined a small group who powered onto the finish climb, where, upon crossing the line I was maybe 20 seconds down on the front group. A breakaway had about 1 minute on us too, so thankfully didn't loose too much time at all, result!
Rest of LP did well, Joe absolutely burying himself on the final 10k and brought the time down a fair bit to the break, problem is, the break had about 10 riders, and nobody seemed to know who (apart from Kendal of Feather) so there was nobody willing to work with Joe. Ben was riding super strong, but unfortunately was taken down, nothing too serious mind, road rash in the usual places. Simon missed the chased at the top of the second climb, and as a result did loose time coming in about 15 mins after the peloton.
Finishing the stage and regrouping there was a sudden realisation that we had a hilly TT in the afternoon, infact it was only 2 hours away, better get a move on and head back to race HQ.