Since we are staying in Boquete, 32kms north of David, where each stage starts and ends (except today's finish and the time trial tomorrow, we have driven half of the route of the "Queen Stage" everyday on our way to and from the race, and everytime we went by the town of Dolega, my dad would say, "once you hit this bridge, make sure you are at the front, because things will get ugly, right here". Was he right.
The temperature today was somewhat bareable, and that was good since we are all starting to feel the effects of the race and the heat. Once again the 5 different packs rolled out on a neutral start until we got to the hospital in David where the official start was for each of the categories, spread 5 minutes apart.
Executives A & Bs rolled out around 9:30am, and just like yesterday, headed west for a few kilometers on the Panamerican Highway, before making a right turn and the beginning of the climbing. 36 miles with almost 4,000 feet of climbing were on the menu and the pack was pretty controlled, although going a little faster than yesterday's start. The Friends (Mayhem, as we call them) went to the front after a Costa Rican rider set off trying to set the first intermediate sprint for their leader. After that, the pace was consistent but riders were already feeling tired and a group of As rolled off the front. As we approached the bridge that dad had warned us about, we made sure to be towards the front and it paid off, because the at the top, there was the second intermediate sprint and the pack exploded. Glenn took the sprint and we just kept rolling, in a group of ten riders. Since the yellow jersey was left without teammates, we had a chat and decided to help him and in return we would get the stage win. The pace was reasonable for a while but soon enough the three Costa Rican riders (KOM and Sprint leaders) got dropped. This was great for us and the pace went up just a bit to make sure we would not see them again.
But, as the KOM (King of the Mountain) sprint was approaching, the Costa Rican rider wearing the polka dot jersey appeared from what seem, thin air. He accelerated and went for the points, with Glenn right behind. By then, Kerry and I were in a spot of bother and had to let the lead group go and kept a steady pace, picking riders dropped from each of the groups ahead of us.
Dave was having a much better day today and was riding strongly, going steady all the way up. We went through three different towns and the school kids and their teachers were out screaming their hearts out for each rider that was slowly making his way to the finish.
Glenn ended up second place, with Kerry in 4th and I was brining the rear in 6th. Dave finished 7th in the Cs.
Once again, we had the support of dad and mom, driving both cars behind us and making sure that we had everything we needed and cheering us even though I think we each wished our bikes had an engine. When we gather back at the van at the finish line, we decided that this was probably one of the toughest days we each have had on the bike. Riders were coming in ones and twos and as we headed back to the house, we saw three guys still coming in, a good hour after we had finish. A complete massacre of a stage.
Eating and hydration has taken most of the afternoon. We went out for dinner and there were some cheesburgers consumed.
Tomorrow is a short 6 mile individual time trial. Hopefully another good day for us.