60 miles in total, with 6 laps and a final turn off for a flat sprint finish. Probably not a stage I was going to contest. Today for me was about keeping our of trouble, saving some energy and more importantly not loosing any time on GC.
It was quite a twisty, technical course, with plenty of road hazards, bollards, parked cars etc... certainly a course where you had to pay attention. First time up the hill, and as expected it hurt, I was perhaps poorly positioned in the back half of the peloton, so couldn't really get into a rhythm. The next section of the course was flat and fast as we turned into Glasbury, I seemed to make quite a few places on the B road toward LLyswen, and found myself near the front on the 3rd lap, I knew the sprint was coming up so attacked, taking one rider with me. It felt like I was out there for ages, reality was it was probably more like 20 seconds, but as the sprint came into view I got swallowed up by riders, who attacked again. Much like yesterday I didn't have much in my legs to respond, so latched onto a few wheels and then made contact with that small front group. The peloton however now all back together. 4th time up that hill, and it probably hurt the most, plenty of people getting shelled from the bunch, some managing to rejoin on the fast descent after. The pace was picking up a little now, some nervous riding and of course, the inevitable happened. A high speed crash, around 5 riders in front of me when another rider tried to cut in front of a bollard... I somehow avoided it, 4 other riders not so lucky as they were strewn across the floor, not nice. I was distanced a little from the bunch now, but chased back on with about 20 other riders and we were all once again back together. Final bloody time up that hill, and I was keen to get in a good position, put in an extra dig and was perhaps top 20 going over. I knew that if I could hold this position I maybe had a chance in the sprint as it seemed most other riders were knackered as well... Unfortunately at 3km to go there was another crash, this time right in front of me, another bollard/rider collision, no real idea how, but I managed to stay on the bike... We turned into the finishing straight and I had caught back up with the bunch, wasn't really sure what I had for the sprint, and given there was no time gaps to be awarded I kind of just rolled across the line, maybe top 30. Save myself for the Tumble tomorrow.
Unfortunately Simon had a crash whilst instigating a break on the 2nd lap, hitting a car and a wall. He's ok, snapped forks and some road rash means he couldn't finish and is out for tomorrow's stage, gutted.
GC wise I didn't loose any time, but I didn't gain any, so i'm still 19th at 1:49. That's going to be some effort up the Tumble...