Stage 4 was the TT. only a mere 14km, but up a mountain, 1100m of climbing. This wasn't a head down fireroad bash up the to the top either, a mixture of trails, twists and turns broke it up, making the kms tick feel like they ticked by a little faster and the pain a little less!

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Riders went off in reverse overall GC order at 20 second intervals, with the elites at minute intervals. The 2nd time this year I have been ahead of Alban Lakata.

For those of us starting around 10am, the weather forecast was for thunderstorms, clearing by the time we arrived at the top. Again the forecast was fortunately incorrect, it remained overcast and warm, perfect conditions for one last haul up a mountain.

The start was where the river cascaded into the edge of town. A picturesque and invigorating spot to start. The first few kms was a repeat of stage 2, following the course of the river before turning off into deep forest trails. The rollercoaster ride of twists and turns, steep to steady climbing and the constant change of track from rocky trail to singletrack made for a 'fun' ride up, far from a monotonous mountain TT.P1010559

[caption id="attachment_14955" align="aligncenter" width="413"]P1010544 the last few burning metres...[/caption]

Riders up ahead made for good 'targets' to keep the charge in the legs going, plenty of room to pass on the open double track, and views to admire. Veering off onto tree lined singletrack, the way up got super steep, balancing front and rear traction around each turn as the cadence dropped, riders being courteous in letting others pass.

There wasn't much let up in the steepness, switchback singletrack dropping in and out of the forest. It levelled off before a final rooty, off camber section of singletrack bringing us out onto the double track to the finish and the sound of the finish crowds. Around the next bend, there it was, the finish, 300m to go.

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With a belly full of 'recovery' meat and cheese sandwiches and cake, it was a trundle back down the easy DH run. The black and red runs look amazing, on something with a lot more travel than an xc bike!

Sharon Laws of Podium Ambition did a great ride for 3rd and an awesome ride from Karla Boddy (Drops cycling team) in her first mtb race coming 6th elite. Especially given that her bike didn't arrive from the UK and was on a rented bike!

My legs drove ok, with a 2nd overall in the Masters3 category.

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Also impressive was the ride from Lloyd Bettles, given that he has split his knee open just 4 weeks earlier!

Check it out: AlpentourTrophy