Elevation gained: 3,850m
An early start for some of the riders (7:40 am) meant that they were eating breakfast alone this morning whilst the majority of the field got their last bit of rest before starting at the official time (9:00 am). The TransPortugal has a handicap system that allows the older riders and female riders to compete with the elite – today highlighted this system in action with the winner being over 50 years old. The handicap system is purely time based and is awarded at the beginning of each day – not at the end. The reason for this is so that the person that crosses the line first is the winner and there are no surprises for anyone.
This morning the mood was less rowdy then yesterday and I am sure as the stages tick away this will become even more apparent. Lots of rolls and cereals consumed before last minute bike preparations took place around the start line, including a mild panic for me as my GPS broke minutes before the start. I guess this was fortunate timing as it meant that I could replace it with a borrowed GPS from the race organisers rather than getting lost in the middle of nowhere!
Although today had over 3,800m climbing there were no long, steep, heavy climbs and the elevation was manageable and so, as the kilometres ticked by, the elevation was gained without too much effort. The weather was great for riding and was slightly overcast and reasonably cool, although still with the potential of sunburn.
After 5km of leaving Bragenca, the longest climb of the day wound itself up to Figuera. If this was going to set the scene for the rest of the day we were in for a good ride. Long windy rideable tracks all the way up.
Most of the day consisted of unused jeep track so concentration was critical as obstacles often presented themselves in the most random of places. One of the more experienced ridesr was caught out on a rocky decent and he ended up with a nasty gash on his head, which was bandaged up once he finished the ride.
Most of the riding was done on hardpack which allowed for some good speed. The 6km descent coming into Freixo meant speeds of up to 70km without much pedalling.
The scenery was rugged and remote and some of the small villages and towns seem to have gone back in time. I had one of the best day’s racing today that I have had in a very long time and I hope I feel the same way at the end of tomorrow!
- First: Milan Spolc (CZE) 6:00:14
- Second: Luis Leao Pinto (POR) 6:07:49
- Third: Tiago Silva (POR) 6:28:35