Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jelajah Tour: Stage 4

I awoke on the morning of stage 4 to gale force winds and sideways rain and was a little worried. The race was only 89km and dead flat but head directly north up the coast into the wind. 

Fortunately, it was a late start and by the afternoon, the wind had died down but it continued to rain. To cap it all off, my throat was beginning to tickle and I felt the preliminary symptoms of a cold. 

We made our way to the start line in the pouring rain. There was a sense of excitement in the bunch as there were rumors that the stage may be cancelled due to flooding. But it was not to be. 

I knew that I was going to get sick after riding in these conditions and decided to go on the offensive to try and get some bonus time at an immediate sprint. I took off from the gun and after several attempts, finally got a break going just before the first sprint. With Terengganu leading the race with their sprinters, they were not going to let anyone get away. The break was caught 1pm before the sprint. 

I settled back into the group as 3 riders broke clear. The peleton slowed and a gap quickly appeared. Terengganu moved to the front and the chase was on. The peleton flew along at 50kph but the break was nearing the finish. With 5km to go, the bunch was flying at 55kph into a headwind and caught the break with 2km remaining. 

The finish was hectic as the race map showed a corner at 1km and another at 200m to go. Matthias was well positioned at the front. We hit the first corner, but there was still 1.3km to go??!!! Two riders crashed in front of me in the wet but I managed to weave my way around them. We approached the second corner and matthias was in prime position but as we exited, there was still 600m to go, unlike what was indicated on the map!

Matthias sprinted with what energy he had left and finished 6th on the stage, behind the powerful Malaysia sprinters.

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