Josh Ibbett reports from stage two of the Andalucía Bike Race.
Day two, and our first day in a leaders jersey, and it feels good.
After the chaos of the first stage run in conjunction with the sierra morena marathon and the 1000+ riders I was hoping for a calmer start to the day. We were called up towards the front of the grid as category leaders. Each team was called up individually to the start over the pa system and there were TV cameras and photographers crowding around us. Then overhead the TV helicopter arrived, the atmosphere was amazing, noise and crowds everywhere. It certainly made the adrenaline flow.
The actual start was madness. There was a 50m rocky uphill sprint followed by a bottle neck through a gate into a wide, loose rutted descent. The descent was not really too challenge but when you factor in loads of technically inept Europeans on super light carbon hardtails it is chaos. Imagine the start of the mega avalanche and you get a pretty accurate idea. I managed to get a good start and rode most of the descent before some euros stacked in front of me and i nearly ran them over. Pre-race Cait and I had agreed to ride solo for the first few kilometres then meet up at the bottom of the hill.
We finally found each other and settled into a good group. The first stage showed us that there wasn’t really much competition in the mixed category so we set our sight on the womens leaders. We stayed with them for much of the first part of the race until we managed to get held up in the some technical single track by some Spanish hikers, erm i mean Spanish riders!
After the second feed I managed to get a slow puncture so Cait kept on moving and I stopped to mend it. Unfortunately I took ages so had to chase really hard to catch up again. Then we reached the final feed and I stopped to get more water and put more air in my tyre while Cait carried on up a steep climb. After another flat out interval iIcaught Cait again but was pretty ruined after an hour of hard efforts catching up again so we eased up slightly and cruised into the finish.
We convincingly won our category again and most importantly had loads of fun. The course wasn’t as technically challenging as stage one but still contained loads of fast flowy singletrack. Bring on stage three.