A loop past Boland Lanbou Skool and then going up the new Helshoogte pass and down the old road four times made for an interesting day. A break including Robbie Hunter went down the road which meant that some other teams had to do the chasing for a change. Once again I could sit on and had a easy ride, enjoying the spirit in the bunch, especially when we missed a turnoff and the race descended into chaos for a few minutes as we all had to regroup and sort out what went wrong.
After the break was recalled and sent on the right route with their original time gap we were off again, heading for the dreaded Helshoogte laps. Unfortunately one lap was cut out due to the mistake and as it was we took the climb at a mediocre pace initially. I was hoping that the pace would be higher as it would break the bunch up even more but at the time I was just happy that I dd not have to suffer that much.
Each climb the bunch would split up a bit but come back together again on the descent, just a little smaller every time. Unfortunately I witnessed two unpleasant incidents as Pieter Henning crashed on the descent while looking strong. It happened right in front of me and I got a huge fright and narrowly missed riding over/into him. Turns out the fall looked nastier than it was, I am glad to say!
The other incident was Burry Stander riding into a Konica Minolta staff member who had no clue what she was doing. He grabbed a bottle from his helper but then Miss K-M got in his way and they collided. I had a front row seat and could not believe what I had seen, very disgusted! To make matters worse Burry punctured shortly after so never made it back to the front group and thus also dropping down on GC, making the 3 second gap I had on him in the morning a bit bigger. Yes, I hate saying it, but I did profit from his misfortunes...
Back to the racing
Coming into the last lap we flew up the steep part of the climb once more before the pace settled on the false flat. Domenique Cornu (2006 u23 World TT Champ) took a flyer, followed shortly afterwards by a K-M and BarloW rider. I tried my luck and jumped after them but never could close the gap, which left me in no mans land for 2km before David George lead a small group back up to me. With 1200meters to go they accelerated and I was not able to follow, loosing 150meters to them by the line, but still coming in 10th for the day and moving up to 11th on GC.
Once again not to shabby. What made it all better were all of the people who had come out to watch and were shouting by the roadside! I was impressed by how many times I heard my name and just have to say thank you to everyone who came out on the day!