Stage 7 - Right royal finish...
Well today is the longest stage of the tour, 199.9km from Bury St Edmunds to the Sandringham Estate in northern East Anglia. From the van at the start I could see the flags on top of the town hall blowing quite a bit and in my mind I could see a grim day ahead with cross winds and the like. My job for today was to keep an eye on Iker again then take a look at a good sprint finish. Best laid plans and all that...
A nice roll out in warm conditions, then attacks from the gun. I could see Vossi getting well stuck in and a move looked like it was going with him but Sky thought better and pulled it back. I was rolling up the outside and just after a left turn I followed onto a couple of guys going pretty rapido. All seemed easy and oddly quiet behind so a quick glance and to my surprise the elastic had snapped and we were away, easy as that! It is always the case, you try and try and try and eventually you make the break when not really trying. Oh well perfect! Only 120 miles to go lads!!
So the group of 6 of us worked really really well together, it was nice to see two other UK teams, Sigma and Raleigh with me along with Europcar, An Post and Topsport. To be honest there is not a whole lot to say from now till the end other than we powered on covering 28 miles in the first hour... Pretty fast indeed. Crowds were once more incredible and helped us onwards. I had a little something to keep me interested at the 2nd sprint as it is where my sister and family lives and they were out watching somewhere... I didn't manage to spot them but a text later said they saw me.
Down came the rain next, and a grim hour or so through mid distance and the feed. We actually had to ease up a little for a while to keep the gap back to the bunch, something around 6 mins, stable and stop them chasing so hard. Further on still and with 40km to go it was becoming a possibility that we could go all the way. The chase was revving up behind and at this point it was vital that we in the break did the same. The next 20 km we really gave it everything, flat out, to break the chase. once again the speed always in the high 20s.
And it worked, into the last 10 km it was apparent from time checks and team cars, that the chase had faded and it was going to be down to a 6 man sprint. At this point I had started to feel a little better after a 2/3rd distance bad patch. The Kms ticked past and no attacks. Everyone too gassed from the 120 mile through and off session! Into the last km I was at the front but managed to slide back to 4th wheel on my choosen Europcar wheel. Round the last corner at what must have been 500m, Raleigh attacked but weakly and negated by An Post. It was here I made my mistake, thinking it was a perfect counter, I went for the inside but soon found the strong wind not good, so stalled on the front looking for the finish gantry to gauge distance. wait wait, then balls, An Post jumped and I was on him but too slow. As the line approached I was flying at him but too late. 2nd! Argghh!
A great result - if someone had offered that at the start of the day, I would of taken it for sure, though I feel I could of had a good chance if I had made my sprint at the right time. C'est la vie...
On the plus side, I did win the Combativity prize, most agressive rider so got chance to mount the podium and get some flowers. A great day. Lots of autographs at the back of the podium. Excellent. Drive back to the hotel ringing and texting and tweeting the good news. Celebratory cake for tea. Lovely. Though sleep was a little hard to come by re-running the finish over and over..
Stage 8 and 8A - Split day finale...
Well the final day of the Tour of Britain. Here I am in central Londonville. On reflection, not my greatest day! Broke a spoke in the time trial and so coupled with using my road bike, it put me outside the 120% time cut and thus out the race and the final showpiece stage. Gutted is an under statement! But I will leave it at that. Yesterday will be my final stage memory so after a great tour it is brought to a close.
Some excellent TV time for Endura with my close 2nd and Iker 6th overall plus riders in most of the breakaways. Also extra motivation knowing that this level of competion is easily achievable.
Next year baby. Many thanks for all the support both on the road and digitally.
Photos by Joolze Dymond | www.joolzedymond.com