After the 96km race and 100km transfer yesterday,we were checked into the quaint coffee town of Chikmagalur, which is nestled in the lush Malnad region of Karnataka. After a good night’s rest, we lined up for the second stage of the ‘Tour of Glory’.
The stage started in the town of Aldur. Today was 84kms in length with a total elevation gain of 1200m. Apart from the jampacked elevation gain, the special feature of today’s race was that there wasn’t even a single straight flat stretch for more than a kilometre in length. The kind of route that reminds me of the Belgian Classic race – Liege Bastogne Liege
We were flagged off at 8:30AM and soon me and KKR headed to the front to take advantage of the technical descent to try and split the field. We were joined by 10 or so of the strongest riders and we began to take turns in the front.
|Photo Credits: Deepak Sondur|
While the headwinds of yesterday’s stage tested everyone’s perseverance, today’s course tested everyone’s bike-handling and attentiveness – with its continuous rolling terrain, the occasional traffic and more than occasional cow-crossings.
As we approached the KOM climb of the day which was 1.5kms in length, there was one cyclist, Shiven, 15 seconds up ahead of us. I rode in the front to not let him get too big of an advantage. But as soon as we hit the base, KKR kicked off. I followed in hot pursuit, but I did not have the legs to bridge across and towed in behind Naveen and Adarsh. We crossed the KOM line about 12 seconds behind and worked together over the next 2 kilometres to bring them back in.
In the following short ascents, descents and cow-dodgings, the lead group thinned down to 4 - Me, Naveen, KKR and Adarsh. We agreed to a mutual ceasefire and took turns riding tempo so as to build a lead on the bunch behind. I tried to attack at the 45kmsmark, but I did not have the legs and was soon reeled back in.
|PC: Deepak Sondur|
Over the next 6-7 kilometres, we were witness to the spectacular views of the Malnad region, which is nestled in between the western ghats and I was in awe of the route selected by the race organizers!
As we hit the next short climb, I was witness to the rear wheel of Naveen Raj, which was nestled behind KKR who was setting a high pace and I was in awe of the pain being dished out.
I was glad I had survived this climb, but I realized that my legs were fatigued from the hard week’s training the week before and I was worried if I could stay with the leading duo till the finale.
At the 60km mark, we hit a 4km climb and my body had reached lactic-acid saturation. I let go off the wheel in front of me, which unfortunately also meant that I let go off my 3rd place on GC.
I rode the rest of the route at my own pace and counted down the kilometres and counted up the number of cows I came across till the finish line. 76 in total. Disappointingly, I have dropped down to 4th on GC, but there’s still one day and 1800m of elevation gain to make it up.
|PC: Deepak Sondur|