With the built fatigue continuing to wear on my spirit and performance, we all knew that we were almost there.
Stage 5 would lead us eight times around a five mile circuit. Only thirty guys would start the race this afternoon. I guess most guys have more sense than to do six races in four days.
In a typical cycling race I will never even consider switching to my small chainring. But on this course, my legs dictated switching four times every lap. We had to ride up four climbs each lap for eight laps. That is a lot of wear and tear on a cyclist, even someone who came prepared. I began using tactics to save all the energy I could. I was cutting the inside of turns to move up in position. I was bombing the downhills, weaving between more cautious riders. But when the grade turned positive, my legs weren’t helping me at all. I drifted back to the last rider every single lap on at least one of the climbs.
With each passing lap I found that I had less and less distance to drift back. By the sixth lap we had dropped nearly half of the riders and the peleton was the size of a large breakaway. Most of the attacks during the race were pulled back by riders in the GC not strong enough to bridge the gap but not willing to let another overall contender get away. This race had put everyone on the defensive. If we could just stay in the field till the finish then we were guaranteed to score points towards the overall.
But a local phenom time trialist definitely had higher aspirations. He and a rider for Sfatto, a well represented team in the field, broke away about three laps to go. But when the Sfatto rider was reeled in a man named GW, still off the front was not ready to call it a day. He continued by himself to the third solo victory in three races.
When the field came towards the finish my sprint did not follow. I struggled for my eighth place finish but beat several riders in the GC. We were all getting pretty beat by now and were pretty much ready for this weekend of racing to be over.
Greg, Joe and I returned back to the hotel to relax. One more race left to conclude the Tour of Atlanta. What a birthday.