Today’s stage started off with a +/- 1 hour spin up Montagu Pass followed by a freewheeling flight into the community of Herold. From here on it was mostly open gravel road until Paardepoort where the climate changed to dry and hot temperature. The Karoo welcomed us with 40 degrees and made the last 40 kilometers a tough ride. While riding in these conditions it is of course vital to take in plenty of water, electrolytes and keep on eating, even though it is the last thing your body wants to do. It is fascinating how much fluid the human body can consume. If I were to estimate the amount of water, juice, tea and energy drinks I have been consuming for the last 24 hours it would easily total to 20 liter. At today’s stage alone I consumed 8 bottles of mostly water.
The leading solo lady Lara-Ann passed me on the Montagu Pass. I could not respond and just let her go. A couple minutes later Carmen, who is currently holding third position, also rode pass. Although I felt great and my legs were behaving well, she managed to pull away slowly but surely. Very strong climbers these ladies. The rest of the race was very fast with lots of gravel sections. I managed to tug in behind some riders a few kilometers here and there but was mostly on my own clocking the kilometers. Once we hit the arid Karoo landscape we were treated to mostly jeep track and rocky terrain. At the point where the temperature climbed proudly to 40 degrees we had the last bit of climbing ahead. Although it was not a long climb with an estimated 1 kilometer and 300 meters ascent, it was more than sufficient to get the core body temperature to a boiling state. Fortunate, we had to cross 2 knee deep rivers, which brought some relief for a second or so. At the end I did not catch the girls but found out in the finish in Oudtshoorn that we got in with just 5 minutes apart each. This leaves me still in 2nd position in GC and remains an exciting battle between the solo ladies for the next stages to come.
Tomorrow awaits us the Kammanassie and unknown territory with over 60% that has never seen a bicycle. It will be a tough one with 94 km and 1950m ascent, but with hopefully less gravel and more exciting technical riding.
See you in De Rust.