After a ‘transition’ stage on day four we were hoping for some better trails for the final two days. The organisers certainly delivered on stage five with a great circuit full of amazing singletrack. The sun was out, trails great and our performance was good. We had set ourselves the goal of beating the women’s leaders before the end of the race.
Looking at the profile of the stage we felt that this was our day. It was either up or down and the downs were all technical which suited our strengths. We were able to comfortably sit with the women’s leaders all day and were even planning a cheeky attack on the last climb. Unfortunately disaster struck and the bearing in my rear wheel collapsed with 20km to go. This meant that we had to ease up and nurse my bike to the finish or risk either crashing or my bike becoming unrideable: incredibly frustrating!
The final day finally arrived and we were once again very motivated to beat the women’s leaders. Cait was especially motivated and was ominously quiet before the stage. The stage was mainly fire road and we were dreading a repeat of stage 4. It turned out to be far from the case with great views of the stunning mountains. From the start Cait was looking very strong. I tried to push a few times early on to close gaps but was told off. Cait was determined to prove that she could ride the whole stage just as fast with out my help… so I did as I was told and set the pace.
I set a nice tempo and Cait followed my wheel over the first climb of the day and it soon became clear that we were ahead of the women’s leaders. This proved even more motivating and we pushed on catching and dropping teams all the while. The clouds had begun to darken and as we reached the summit of the second climb it began to snow! This is when the problems began.
On a fast fire road descent we had a puncture. By this time the snow had turned to rain and we were soaked to the skin in nothing but shorts and arm warmers. We quickly got cold and were passed by the leading women’s teams.
From that point on it was about survival. It was probably dangerous for us to continue but we had to in order to win the overall classification. After a few hours of extreme cold we finally finished once again winning the stage and the overall title but frustratingly still not beating the women’s leaders.
Thanks to the organisers for putting on such a great race and extra big thanks to Cait for being a great team mate for the week