Stage/Finish: Puerto-Lumbreras › Pozo Alcón
Distance: 185.7 kilometers - flat
Weather: 92F/33C - sunny
Images ©Chris Auld
Stage 7 felt a little bit like a one-day race, not day 7 and 33 racing hours into a three-week Grand Tour. The fatigue started to appear but based on how everyone else rode, I would think they’d all spent the past week on the couch resting up.
We rode through some very hot, dry and rural countryside and the breakaway went much quicker than I anticipated, but a quick tailwind couldn’t get their gap over a few minutes.
Throughout the day, every one was ambitious to stay up front, and I never felt like we were just cruising along. Instead, I always had someone’s handlebars wedged against my hip or someone’s shoulder shoved into my armpit.
The final 20-kilometer looked to be very small roads with some nasty climbing sections, so the battle for position began 30 km before we even reached that part of the course.
When we finally hit the “small” road, it was even worse than we expected with very busted pavement, melting tar patches and lots of gravel. I appreciate a race testing all facets of a rider’s skills and a team’s ability, but that road seemed a bit ridiculous.
BMC worked to get Dylan in a good position because this was a finish that could suit him. Joey and Nico were up with him and made it through a nasty crash at the bottom of the final climb, so I took that as my cue to pack it in.
There were crashes in the GC group and a few even in the dropped group, so I was happy to make it safely through another day. I’m ready to head north to some new scenery and hopefully cooler temps. Since we spent the first five days going the wrong direction across Spain, we are now left with two big days of racing and transfer hours.