After the cancellation of stage 5 everyone was keen to get back on their bikes for the next and final stage in and around Jaen. Although the weather had cleared and the clear blue skies had returned, snow on the ground at altitude meant that the route had been modified to an out-and-back on fire roads with a loop of mainly singletrack climbing and descending in the middle.
|Off we go|
Unsurprisingly the pace was ferocious from the start, any remaining energy at the end of this stage would be a missed opportunity by riders to gain seconds and places in the final standings. We took a slightly different approach knowing that by avoiding any major incidents we were unlikely to lose our placing to the team behind us and we were never going to make up the large gap to the team in front.
Our slow and steady tactic paid off. The snow and rain had turned some parts into massive bogs of clay and we went past several teams who were attempting to cobble broken mechs and snapped chains.
At the top of the final climb we had massive grins on our faces knowing that we only had a 20km of descending between us and the finish of our first stage race and the placing in the top ten that we had aimed for. It felt amazing dropping down along a small gorge on the twisting muddy, rocky and rooty singletrack. The most fun I’d had in an incredible week of riding. Just brilliant.
We eventually crossed the line in a little under 4 hours. A modest stage time compared to the other teams but with our goal achieved.
|Trusty Cotic Sodas|
We came out to the Andalucía Bike Race not really knowing what stage racing or the race itself would be like yet it’s seemed to surpass everyone one of these undefined expectations.
The riding has been brilliant. The stories that we’d heard that Spain did not offer much in terms of technical singletrack could not have been more wrong. The trails have allowed us to gain so much more confidence in our technical ability by tackling some fairly gnarly trails on our race bikes as they were there in front of us to be ridden.
The atmosphere has been great and we’ve met some great people too. It was a pleasure to be part of a growing British contingent of riders at this event. The whole event was slickly organised which was particularly evident with the changes that were required as a result of the weather.
|Pick a bike, any bike|
And finally, thanks to my team mate Ruth who now will be going to sleep every night hearing me nag her to have a drink, gel or energy bar. The ability to ride with someone in whom you have every confidence in their riding ability should not be understated. If I was leading down a technical section of trail I knew she would be right behind me and conversely, if she cleared a section on a particular line I knew I could go ahead and follow her straight down.
Category position – 7th Elite Women
Overall position – 241st
Distance – 320km
Elevation – 10,240m
Time – 26hrs 7mins 17secs
|Team 139 - Cotic / A Quick release|