185.3 km, 2520m ascent

The first stage after the rest day is a bit tough.

The rest day can do more harm than good and I for one like to just keep on going, to get it over and done with.

Today we were given the same orders as before the rest day, which was to make the race difficult for whoever was meant to be controlling. Hence I attacked pretty much as soon as the race started and it stuck, I was joined by another 13 or so and we got stuck into a long day in the break away.

Today’s break which I instigated, stayed clear and provided the winner.

We built the lead up to about six minutes and that stayed that way for many kilometres. At the second mountain prize, I had just finished my turn on the front and dropped to the back of the group when Kai Reus, a Colombian and a Caja Rural rider attacked hard.

I wasn’t able to respond, it was way too short for me. I warmed up and together with another Caja Rural rider got within 15 seconds of the lead break away, a situation which remained that way for countless kilometres.

Eventually we gave up and were caught by the peloton with just over 10km to go.

Kai Reus was to attack and eventually win the stage, which really cheered me up. I had been talking with him just before the stage as he also survived a horrific crash that saw him in a coma.

Kai takes the win today.

Back in the peloton there was a massive crash and a few riders had to drop out of the race, including our leader, Ricardo Mestre. This left me really disappointed, while I may not agree with everything the team does, I appreciate this is the most important race of the season and a goal we have been working towards since December.

I got a bit annoyed with a former and much respected member of the peloton today as he commented on my facial expression (an expression of effort) as I came on a couple of stage finishes – as if as good domestique should actual give up and wheel in 10 minutes after the rest every day.

The truth is I haven’t expended any extra energy coming in the bunch since most days there’s been a massive crash within the last three km or I’ve been working my ass off on the front and at the start of the race and am no where near the front anyway.

It annoys me most because over the last five years I have been nothing but a selfless domestique, including for him.

The only victories to my name being things picked up in the course of those duties, plus I even helped this team in other ways through the help of a sponsor before (no longer, alas)… I tell you, give an inch, they take a mile.

Regardless what happens, whether we win the Volta or not, whether I’ll be cycling in 2013 or not, I definitely need a change.

A change of culture.