The sound of rain on the tent when I woke was not very inspiring. I told Leonie that I was too old for this sort of carry-on and that I’d not bother with the stage. But then I got up and had breakfast and the rain ceased. So I found myself riding to the start under grey skies and with multiple layers of cycling attire. My cycle computer claimed it was 10 degrees. Maybe it was warmer but not much.
I got to the start later than normal due to my lack of motivation but the start blocks seemed to have fewer people than normal. Hmm.
We headed right today and rode along the lake in the same direction as the time trial. Last year on this stage I had a disaster with my saddle bag and had to ride my own time trial back from behind the broom wagon. This year nothing like that happened but soon after the race started (i.e. after the neutralised section ended) there was already a large gap well up the road. I sprinted across another gap that had formed to a smaller bunch but the group of perhaps 200 were already too far up the road to catch.
Unlike last year I took it easy and hung around in the bunch not doing much work. My legs felt ok but the seemed to be a little below operating temperature with the cool conditions. I rode away from the now quite large bunch at the first long ascent and descended cautiously on the wet road. After regrouping on the flat there was a group of maybe 12-15 of us for the rolling hills that followed. I grabbed a banana held out to me at the drinks station after the short 18 percent climb directly before.
We then had a fast descent to the main road and a long flat ride back along the road towards Villach. In previous years I’ve had to work hard with small bunches here but this year the bunch was large and I sat on and did no work. At around 80 km the course takes a right and begins to climb to Bad Bleiberg. I was thinking of letting the bunch go and cruising slowly to the top of the hill but just before the turn decided against it. I cycled to the front of the bunch and started the climb leaving the bulk of the bunch just behind me. I kept them just behind me until the steep part of the climb came. I’ve really suffered on this part in previous years but this year it was ok, perhaps because I’d been resting my legs in the bunch or perhaps it was helped by my new 32-10 cassette.
There were a number of woman in the bunch and one of them had attacked also and was riding up on my wheel. I tried to control my breathing and worked on riding hard. We took turns passing each other up the hill until we met a couple of other guys, one being Rene from last year. I got away a bit and they were slightly behind until the woman and another guy caught up again near the top of the climb. She was eager to stay away from the bunch to hold her position in front of the other women and shouted “tempo, tempo” at us, i.e. pull me to the finish line.
In the end there were three guys and her and we worked together to the finish. I sat behind just before the finish and then did a fun and pointless finish sprint. I’m sure that only aggravated the others I’d been riding with but I enjoyed it all the same.
Leonie was at the finish line and cheered me on as I crossed it. Instead of cycling back as in previous years she drove us back to the camp site for an afternoon of lazy times.
I finished in 3 hours and 5 minutes which was ok, except that last year I finished in 2:59 minutes and last year I lost my place in B block, had to TT from behind the broom wagon through D, C and then to find some faces I knew in B(?). I also had to work in the bunches a lot. Hmmm, I must have been quite a bit fitter. Or perhaps the better weather last year helped. I don’t know.
Tour de Kärnten 2019 Stage 4 Bad Bleiberg
Time: 3:05:51.2 Dst: Avg: Place: 183 Cat Place: 89 Men Open