There were other people on the course and eventually we saw a
decent group of them at a feed station with 70km to go. They were
obviously veterans and were riding in a pack of 50.
As soon as we saw them leave the feed station we decided that
was our autobus to the finish.
Unfortunately for me the feed station was at the top of a small
col, and these riders all went down like a bat out of hell. I was
immediately dropped and on my own, and spent a hellish 10 minutes
fighting my way back to the group.
The last 50km are all a bit surreal; I had a litre of Coca-Cola
at the last stop and suddenly felt amazing. For some reason I was
now at the front of the pack and myself and 5 others were taking
turns pulling the group along. At one stage I did this enormous
turn and my Basque colleagues encouraged me with "Venga, Venga"; so
I kept on going for km after km. Then I realised why they had let
me, as we hit a serious of steep climbs which when fresh would have
been ok. But by now they felt like a mini Mortirolo...
The thing about Spanish riders is that no one likes to work on
the front, but as soon as a climb comes they all think they are
Contador; so 50 guys smashed up this rise at 400w and I struggled
to get back on.
Lesson learnt; no more heroic pulls from me, and I sat back in
the bunch for the last 20km.
The feeling of achievement by that stage was huge; you could see
the signs for Bayonne and we were in the finishing straight.