'10km to go. A string of three up the right hand side of the road. Half the team. Small but compact. Small, but hopefully effective.
Tight corner to the right. Dare not brake too early, dare not lose position. Accelerate as slow as I can out, saving the legs behind. Mind behind. Constantly assessing.
Australians lined up infront. Snatch a look down, 55km/h. Not a time to touch wheels. Look up. Roundabout looms. Man with flag and whistle going at it. The flapping means we can take both sides. We stay in the right hand gutter, surfing the wheels. Waiting. Biding. Adrenaline building.
Exit the roundabout, wind buffers from the right. A gap opens, the bunch scuttling for shelter. Squeezing left. Clear air and an opportunity to hit the front, but we wait. Patience. Check over my shoulder. Still there. I drift right slightly, creating a gap for my teammates. Saving their legs. Their fast legs. We hope. I hope.
Elbow comes at my hip. I keep my wheel just outside the one infront. An escape route if needed. A few riders up there is a swerve. Grab a load of brake. Only for a second, if that, but speed is lost. The other side of the bunch flies past. I stamp on the pedals. Pull on the bars. Momentarily frantic. I look down through my frame, red shoes behind. Good. We lose a few wheels, but remain together. Strength in unity.
I accelerate full bore now. My hands tight on the drops. It’s a narrow lane and I push up the right. A mixture of shoves and shouts to get my way. To get the gaps three wide. One chops me, briefly his rear mech in my wheel. I lose my shit. It’s clearly no accident. The adrenaline seriously flowing now. Brain is gone out the window, i’m up for this.
Huge chute. Corner misjudged right at the front. Somehow slide up the inside, losing a little momentum but no skin. Some not so lucky.
Look behind. Gaps everywhere. Attacks start flying. Head down to try and help Dan a little more. The main job is done but I want more. Getting the positioning for the last kilometer was key. I lack the power beyond that.
Another corner, no crash but oof its sketchy. Everyone fancies a go in this messy chaos. More attacks. I’m too far back to help now. Or can I slip up the inside of this corner? I push, door shuts. Almost lose my wheel on the curb.
Mind flicks to the GC later in the week. A few hard stamps on the pedals to keep in the wheels. 500, 400, 300. Look up. Sit upright. Oh shit that’s Dan’s hands in the air?! Ha. Release. Elation. Clarity through the chaos.'
- British cyclist Tao Geoghegan Hart takes us into the mind of a racer during the final kilometres of a stage.
[Piece written for the Rapha's Doppio newsletter - http://pages.rapha.cc/racing-2/doppio-tour-week-one]