Ah… So, to the final day on Tour OF Bintan and I was stoked that it would soon be over and rest can commence. All that stood between me and my bag of Salt & Vinegar chips was 107km’s of hard Cat 1 racing. Unlike previous years, today we just had one big stage instead of the epic cockery of the split stage that we usually had to contend with. I just really really wanted it to be dry… No chance:
I had arranged a romantic breakfast on our balcony for 2 at 5.30am, the Goat obliging me turning up half nude while Manuel prepared the worst brekkie for a bike race ever:
Following brekkie the Goat and I engaged in a Shitathon, with me eventually prevailing 4 to 3… I faked him out saying I was done, then nailed a final race turd in the hotel lobby (not actually in the lobby itself). He was gutted and I had the brown jersey for the start of the stage, things were looking up.
A quick OCD check of the Rain Radar confirmed my thoughts that we were about to get a massive rain fingering, Its hard to see Bintan on this map, mainly as its covered in rain:
The only downer with this rain aside from making it dangerous and miserable was that it appears that our new Team kit is somewhat allergic to water. Luckily Roberto had some TIPS for us on this front, so we all took precautions, indeed it would be a day of Tippy toeing around in the wet.
Before the start of the stage I had a chat with my friends from Lapierre… there was an exchanging of views and I wasn’t really prepared to change mine, especially as the Commisaire asked me if I wanted to file a complaint, but given I am not a mnanamamamamamama snitch I declined. So, in the end we did what all white middle aged people do, shook hands, said mate a lot and agreed to get on with the racing. Uncle Pete was massively ready to head out, his plan to defend his top 25 GC position complicated by a bike change:
Meanwhile, Goat had challenged Snozza to the self fellate contest, being a little bit competitive, the Snozzinator decided that there was no time like the present to have a crack at it:
So, again we have hit the spot where photos end and words take over for a bit. So pretty much the only time it didn’t piss with rain today was the 2km’s neutral at the start…. Yip, it was 100km in the rain and wet roads. How wet? Well, down track there were AXLE deep lakes that we had to ride through, it was a little bit like a shit mountain bike ride today to be honest.
Out of the classic Nirwana Gardens exit and on to the first climb of the day. I was genuinely worried about being dropped, so made sure I was near the front as I didn’t want to have to chase back on. Now, let me provide some context here… This climb is one of the bigger we go over in the race and its ALWAYS been a KOM, so cool to win it right? Well, as we got in sight of the finish, the pace wasn’t as hot as I expected and I had momentum, so I stood on it and sprinted to the front and past Bastion from the Mavs, as I went past for the WIN he gave me this look like “What the fuck are you doing you cock”, to my horror, after getting across the line I realised this was the first year where it wasn’t a KOM point… Yip, I was THAT guy that sprinted for something that wasn’t actually a competition… Niiiice one.
After check point charlie we headed left onto an all new course for stage 2, which replayed the start of stage 1 yesterday. It was now raining so hard that there was a lot of riding on blind faith, as you couldn’t see shit and just had to hope the guy next to you wasn’t going to fuck it up. Roberto was the tip of the sword at the front for us and I tried a couple of times to get a break going, but everything was getting chased down with ruthlessness. Into an all new section and I had to chase back on a couple of times, oddly my legs felt good, but it was single file and I couldn’t see a thing.
Finally it was on to the highway and things were zipping along nicely, until the Yellow Jersey flatted. Snozza was straight into Cancellara mode and did the Patron duty of getting the peloton to slow down so Pierre could take a wheel and get back on, good shit and absolutely the right thing to do, it would have been super shit if he had lost the tour to a flat on what was a shit section of road.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but there were a couple of guys up the road… So when I saw Nick Swallow from the Mavs darting off the front 55km’s into the stage, I decided that it was Nomad time and went with him. Within about 5 mins I seriously questioned why the fuck I had done this, as even though I felt good sitting in the pack defending my 47th overall position, as soon as I was up the road I felt fucked! We lapped it out painfully until we bridged to the two boys up the road, oddly the Trek rider was the same guy I was away with last year on the same piece of road.
So, 2 became 4 and we had the gap… Lapping ensued… I felt better and better and wasn’t the weakest for a change and soon we were into the rustic little villages (shit holes) that populate these parts. This is GOLDEN break away territory, lots of turns, shit intersections and most importantly you’re out of sight.
Back in the pack Roberto had headed to the side of the road with a popped rear tub, waiting for the wheel change that didn’t come until well after Cat 2 had passed, not one to lie down he then had a 40km TT back to the finish solo…
So in the break, we were working well together, but I sensed that we were very much sacrificial… Eventually we stayed away for 40km’s, just over an hour and I was pleased to have made it through check point charlie. We got mopped up on the climb back to the REAL KOM and like yesterday, I dribbled out the back of the Peloton like duck shit to start the much shorter solo 10km spin back to the finish, job done.
Job done alright, Snozza smashed it home in 3rd again we think, with one of the Direct Asia boys taking it with Ben from the Mavs second. Full respect to Ben, he was a machine yesterday in the break and then hit it near the end today to nab 2nd, TIP of the cap there. It wasn’t all bear and skittles at the finish though, with Grimace allegedly taking out a number of Cat 1 riders with a massive line deviation. I wasn’t there, but this is footage from the event:
I am not sure if he called out he was going to swing violently to the right, perhaps no one heard him? Hard to say. However, it did hold up Uncle Pete, who had to see the commisaires to make sure he got the same time as the bunch to ensure that his Top 25 placing was intact, phew, crisis averted. Meanwhile, all I could muster was this really weird and slightly creepy smile, partially stoked at getting the medal for being the Dirtiest Fucker here, but mainly pleased I don’t have to ride up that fucking hill to Nirwana Gardens again:
And, it was finally time for the tradition – Salt & Vinegar chips and sour snake lollies, let the dieting go and get super fucked:
Massive credit 1 – Cannondale Black Ops Evo was faultless all weekend, its had 3 days of rain and shit and was amazing. Thank you to Cannasia for providing us the best bikes in the Peloton (I fucking mean it, feel free to test ride one of mine if you want…) and to T3 for the awesome prep work done to get it into top shape, it was a weapon all weekend.
Massive credit 2 – Snozza for getting business done with a couple of podiums, class riding and made sure that we got the name well up there for the weekend, good shit.
Massive credit 3 – Pierre for hit beast TT effort and then holding the jersey for the weekend even though he had the smallest team, rode like a boss and its good to see him come away with the result even though there were some more fancied Hamburglars around.
So, that’s it from Bintan, I am rooted beyond description and am now going to be having a break! As much as I love my bike/s, its time we had a little break from each other… Thanks to everyone for all the support over the weekend, its been awesome and appreciated!