Stage/Finish: Huércal-Overa › San Javier. Mar Menor
Distance: 155.7 kilometers - flat
Weather: 86F/30C - sunny but windy
Images ©Chris Auld
We are approaching the end of Week 1 in Spain, and I think most of the peloton is starting to feel it in their legs. We did less than 3,000 meters (~10,000 feet) of climbing, which was a nice respite, and we thought Stage 6 would come down to a big bunch sprint. As I’ve seen in other races in this part of Spain, the area can be very windy. The flags were whipping this morning when we rolled out.
A three-man group quickly got away and we were happy to see Richie in there showing that he’s starting to recover from a tough stomach bug that he started the race with.
Sports coverage shows one side of the day. Their stories center on the toughness and suffering of the best guys at the top, but they fail to capture the humble drudgery and pain that the guys at the back are riding through. This isn’t Richie’s usual territory, and while I think he’s enjoyed having less pressure placed on him, he isn’t wired for gruppetto riding. Hopefully, today boosted his confidence and helped bring him back for some big rides in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile back in the pack, things went fairly smoothly, but there was always a little nervous energy because clearly there was potential for some crosswind action. With about 25 kilometers to go, things got chaotic and tense as we bounced through the town of Cartegena.
I was trying to stay switched on and in position, but in the back of my mind, I was thinking about staying safe and not doing too much damage to my legs after yesterday and knowing it wasn’t a huge deal to lose a little time.
Approaching the important corner, we came through another small town, and everyone slammed on the brakes as we dodged bikes and bodies on the ground. It looked like another dismal job of obstacle signaling by race organizers, and a couple riders paid dearly for it.
That was enough to split the group.
We still had 25 km to go and had groups even farther back were battling the wind. Up front, they were in full echelon lead out mode. I did my best to stay out of trouble and eventually we connected with Nico’s group, which had a few GC contenders who were doing their best to limit losses to the front. It feels a little strange not to be sweating splits and time lost, but I suppose that comes with the stage hunting mentality. The plan stays the same à remain focused on opportunities as they arise.