It was a long day out there for at the UAE Tour. Despite being a fairly small country in size, we seem to rack up a lot of time on the road between cars and bikes, Stage 5 was 11 hours of constant moving.
Out on the road, it was once again windy and we had yet another nasty sand storm that coated the eyes, mouth, bikes and everything else. I had a few moments of questioning what I was doing here, riding across the barren desert on what seemed like a road to nowhere, hacking up sand and scraping my eyelids across my eyeballs. While wind direction was enough to keep some tension in the bunch, there wasn’t any major wind drama.
On days like this, some guys in the bunch complain about being bored or that they are losing fitness. I put my efforts on the mental focus that it takes to ride in these conditions and so close to one another for five hours. Trust me, it is no walk in the park.
The lead into the sprint was fast and quite hectic. At one moment I was on the right side just behind a lined up FDJ. The middle of the road opened next to them and they started yelling and screaming at each other to go! Moments later a couple of them were hurtling off their bikes and I just squeaked around them. I felt a bike or body nick my rear wheel as I went by. It was close.
In the finish, we tried to give Luka a hand but were no match for the hyper horsepower sprint trains.
Tomorrow we get back to a new big climb at the end of the stage. A 20 kilometer summit finish will surely prove decisive and provide another chance to test the condition after five days of racing.