More technical trails and singletrack characterised the stage today taking riders through Timanfya National Park, which is not too dissimilar from how I imagine it would be to ride on the moon: gnarly black lava rocks, stretching as far as the eye can see, flick across the trail in unpredictable ways and loose terrain: sometimes sandy, other times deep gravel make it hard to find grip. Early parts of the course are open gravel roads allowing riders to find their rhythm and settle down before more tricky sections ahead. Many of the rocky, twisty trails are on narrow, elevated walls around farmer’s fields. The consequences of a mistake are high – literally. Falling from one of the walls into the rocky field below isn’t pretty, as one rider in front of me found out.
The wind once again influenced the race; groups could work well together, but in my case this didn’t seem to happen: large groups sat up, nobody wanted to pull everyone along and do ‘more work’. It seems that smaller groups are happier to share the load. After a few stints at the front to encourage the guys around me to push on, a couple of guys rotated with me while several others sat back and enjoyed the tow.
The leading guys have to battle hard in a really close race and the young Bulls rider Simon Stiebjahn isn’t making things easy for the Wild Wolf race leader Sergio Mantecongutierrez. Yesterday I built a good lead, so for me it wasn’t close racing today, but I never relax too much; the race isn’t won until the finish line on Tuesday and between now and then anything can happen.
Tomorrow’s stage is a 20km uphill (600m) time trial. Starting from the beach in Famara the course follows a double track leading up the cliff to a Church overlooking the coastline. I like time trials - just me against the clock.
Sally Bigham 2:33:51
Sandra Santanyes 2:59:29
Mar Franco Penuela 3:08:33
Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez 2:17:04
Simon Stiebjahn 2:17:06
Tiago Ferreira 2:17:07