176.9km, 3000m ascent

This stage was a tough one, we had a huge mountain right at the start and several others to follow. The roads were crummy also, which made descending awkward.

I was told to save energy and cart water about.

But I felt brilliant, it was one of those days I had to temper my enthusiasm. I escaped on that big mountain at the beginning about half way up and then at the top also.

It was great fun.

A great day for me today.

After the mountain I thought I’d better save my energy, I was worried my good form my be fleeting, but it held throughout the stage.

It faltered a bit when my team mate Nelson Vitorino attacked on this tough 2nd cat climb -I wasn’t warned about this and was taking it easy (less hard!) at the back of the group. I ended up in the second group, which was okay, it all came together a few kilometres up the road.

Ironically I was told to wait and weighed with bidons to a new young climber on our team…

I was just wondering why the hell the director didn’t give him the bidons when he passed him and why I need to take him 3 bidons!

It was a weird moment, just like the strange gesticulation of our road captain at one point, where I was left wondering what the hell he meant just moments later.

The main men before today’s stage start.

During the last few k’s I even thought of attacking; I felt great, I knew I could maintain a higher pace than the pack.

I don’t know why I didn’t. I guess after so long of being the dog’s-body, it’s hard to build the confidence for such a move.

With 2 k’s to go I even thought of getting in the sprint, but a fall filled the road and that’s where I stayed.

All in all I am really pleased with it.

I don’t care if I’m ever afforded the opportunity to attack in a grand tour, or even trained up as a leader; I am happy to know that I could have.

I am lightyears away from the 21 year old university drop out who couldn’t handle a bike, yet alone ride in the peloton those 6-7 years ago.