Left yours truly, right gran fondo hotshot Kenny Nijssen.
Today we're doing the shortest stage of the TOUR Transalp, from Bormio to Livigno. Only 46,7 kilometers in which 1775 meters of climbing had to be conquered. We were curious how the legs were doing after yesterday's extremely tough stage over the Stelvio. I didn't feel completely well but fortunately it was a lot less warm and the sun was shining happily so we were looking forward to it. Once again things were relaxed at the start and we had enough time to have a chat with the number 1 of the ranking, multiple Marmotte winner Kenny Nijssen.
The first climb to La Motte started quite soon after the start and was only 3 kilometers. Because we wanted to at least consolidate our 6th place in the classification, we had decided to ride up this climb hard so as not to immediately fall behind our competitors. It was a lot of pushing for Andries but the result was that we were in the right group at the top. After a short descent, the next climb to Sasso di Prada followed. We felt good, so we were able to keep up well here too. We are getting better and better at working together as a team.
The Passo Foscagno would be the highlight of today's race. On this 14 km long climb it was important to divide the forces well. Because the gradient never exceeds 9%, I was able to have a better cadence. I felt immediately that I was good. Halfway through the race we had to leave a gap to the group of competitors but when after 10 minutes it became clear that the gap was not really widening we decided to jump back to the group. After recovering for a while, we went to ride at the head of the group. The Canadian team that had overtaken us yesterday could not follow. This gave us even more morale and we went hunting for the group in front of us in which the 2 Belgian GF teams were riding who are respectively 2 and 3 in the standings.
At the top of the Passo Foscagno, the group with the 2 Belgian GF teams still had a small lead. With true mortal contempt we plunged into the 4 kilometer long descent to catch up with these guys to be able to join them in the last short 2.5 kilometer climb of the Passo d'Eira. The speeds in the descent were up to 90 km/h! We closed in and were able to climb with them. We crossed the finish line as 4th team of the Grand Masters. In the general classification of the Grand Masters we are still 6th but we managed to reduce the gap to no. 5 to less than 1 minute. We were also able to gain some time on the nr. 4.
The feed stations at the finish were good as always.
Tomorrow there will be another long stage with the infamous Mortirolo. If only that goes well...
Today we're riding a long stage of 107 kilometers o with the dreaded Mortirolo as the final climb. However, that turned out not to be today's biggest opponent. Last night we had already studied the weather forecast for today and it didn't look good.
At the start in Livigno the weather already looks quite threatening. Most riders appeared at the start with arm pieces and rain jackets. What a difference from 2 days ago when the sun on a clear blue sky made the temperatures rise to 35 degrees on the flanks of the Stelvio ... Fortunately, it stayed dry during the start and the first 2 short climbs, Passo d'Eira and Passo Foscagno. At the top of the Passo Foscagno we made a short stop to put on our rain jackets. And that was certainly not for nothing. In the 50 km long descent, it started raining cats and dogs.
We reached the foot of the Mortirolo totally cold. The rain had stopped and we took off our raincoats. I was looking forward to climbing again even though I knew it would be torture. But the prospect of getting warm again through the effort gave me courage. The first few kilometers I started out nice and optimistic but when the gradients got above 13% I regretted not having fitted a 34. The speed dropped below 8 km/h and the pedal frequency below 50, not the value at which I can deliver the most power. On this mountain it's every man for himself.
On top of the Mortirolo the raincoats were put back on because it had started raining a bit again. It was another 25 kilometers to the finish in Aprica, which turned out to be the most dangerous kilometers of the day. The first 15 kilometers were on a narrow road with no visibility, over the back of the mountain. Here and there it was also mud and dirt, which was treacherous with the rain. This was followed by a 10 kilometer crazy descent through a forest on terribly bad road surface with potholes, holes and ledges. CycloWorld colleague Luc crashed on this dangerous road in the last 3 km, resulting in some serious abrasions and a broken bike. Andries and I were happy to reach the finish in one piece.
The result of today is a 7th place in the category Grand Masters and in the overall classification of the Grand Masters we moved up one place from 6th to 5th. In short, it remains exciting and anything can happen.