Andalucia Bike Race 2014 – Final Day

With the racing out of the way we got together with several of the other Brits and tucked into a meal and a few beers in a small restaurant before heading on to the finishing party, the final test of endurance, this time fuelled by bottle beer rather than energy gels.

Words: Mark Spratt

Cordoba
56km
1183m climbing

The final stage of the Andalucia Bike Race for 2014, the shortest with the least amount of climbing and 5 minutes needed to close the gap on 3rd and get onto the podium. It all seemed possible before the start and we arrived early for a good warm up. The bikes were running well and despite it being a chilly start we felt good.

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The start was fast, faster than the previous days, with the lure of a shorter day. Early on we passed our competition but following the first of many hike-a-bikes they were still close on our heels and as Mel slipped at the start of a steep loose climb they snuck past. It was early so this wasn’t a problem – there was plenty of time to take the lead and open a gap.

A few km further and as we emerged from a section of off-camber singletrack Mel attempted to pass some riders that had been holding us up. To do so meant moving from the worn line and riding through a rock field to the side of the trail. She accelerated well and looked to be past when suddenly one of the riders she was passing swung out to attempt their own overtake, swinging straight into Mel. Sitting behind I saw all of this seemingly in slow-motion and watched as Mel almost controlled the wobble but ultimately fell victim to her own out of the saddle sprint effort, the impact of a heavier rider and the rock-strewn ground and went down heavily. Riders around us shouted at the rider who’d brought Mel down and several stopped to see how she was. My first concern was whether she was injured as it looked like a nasty crash but despite clearly being in pain her only concern was for her bike and getting moving again. Unfortunately several parts had become twisted in the crash and it required a multi-tool to set everything straight, costing us time and places at once again an early phase of the stage when bottlenecks were common.

Tough day for some.
Tough day for some.

Once we got moving again it felt like the first day where our pace was determine by those in front of us but there were still 40km to go, so we were determined to push on and claw back the time. However, it soon became apparent that Mel’s bike had suffered more than we realised in the crash and she was unable to put any power through the pedals. We could maintain our position but were unable to move forward and were effectively out of the race. We seriously considered withdrawing but not knowing how to return to the start we continued along the route, though it felt plain wrong to be riding at such a gentle pace. Of course, we both do recovery rides as part of our training but these are inevitably on our road bikes – a gentle mountain bike ride is pretty much a contradiction in terms, but this is what we were now doing.

Finally, after 3h36 we crossed the finish line in 7th place for the stage. Despite riding so slowly we’d maintained our 4th overall position but had lost rather than made time on the pair in 3rd. Naturally we were disappointed but crashes and mechanicals are a part of stage racing and the overall experience was such a good one that any negative feelings were soon forgotten.

A well-deserved finish line.
A well-deserved finish line.

With the racing out of the way we got together with several of the other Brits and tucked into a meal and a few beers in a small restaurant before heading on to the finishing party, the final test of endurance, this time fuelled by bottle beer rather than energy gels.

It’s been a great week representing Bike Magic. The Andalucia Bike Race is certainly on my list of events to repeat.

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Andalucia Bike Race 2014 - Stage 5