Harriet: Jon and Oli had a plan of attack for Stage 2. After last night’s team talk, they agreed to work at a lower intensity prior to the start of the climb. This meant that they had more reserves for the rest of the race. They were also blessed with cloud cover at start the of the day, which meant that conditions were a little cooler.
Jon: The first 13km climb of the day went very well. We stuck to the set heart rate and energy levels only started to drop in the last 2km. Once the climb was completed, we were greeted with our first proper woodland section, which was undulating but very rooty and lead to groups of riders having to walk several kilometres through these sections. Once through, we had a timed downhill enduro section, which was 10km on a real downhill racing track. Scary!
This took us all the way to the bottom of the climb where we hit the first aid station. These are placed all across each stage and provide energy drinks, water and snacks. A quick refill and a few smiles were shared about the fun on the downhill section.
We then had approximately 6km until the next climb. At this point the sun was back with a vengeance, so we set back into the same rhythm as the first climb, and this worked well. With Sigma Vertical Ride jersey points available (for climbing), Oli let fly on this segment. It was a long, hard slog to the next aid station, which was positioned only 3km from the start of another walking section. The last 2km of this climb were too steep to ride, so every rider had to carry their bikes on their shoulders and yomp.
From the summit, we were faced with a technical traverse across the mountain. A lapse in concentration caused me to crash but I quickly regained myself and carried on with only a small cut and a graze. Finally, the downhill arrived and the brakes were off with almost 15km of downhill gravel tracks.
Once at the bottom, we both felt good and could see several groups of riders ahead. Aware that there was only 4km of flat left, we both picked up the pace. When we crossed the finish line, we had climbed 12 positions to 190th. It was a good day in the saddle for us!