The four stage race finished with a circuit race of 9 laps around the "Sunset Loop". It has a reputation for being the toughest stage of the entire race. Optum Pro Cycling raced it hard and raced it well.
On the first lap, Joëlle hiked the pace up, scoring the only precious time bonus to be won during the stage. This caused the field to shatter, and only at the beginning of the race. 6 of the 8 Optum riders made the selection. Thanks Joëlle, you made my legs burn. But I stayed in for the fight. I wanted to race this puppy. Later, Leah who was part of this group as well, went off the front for a few laps with another girl. Jade scooped up some extra Queen of the Mountain points securing her jersey, as Leah was brought back into the group.
With a couple of laps to go, I skidded out on a downhill, regained control of my bike, then skidded out and crashed only meters further. After just recovering from a concussion only a couple of weeks earlier, I felt lucky that I didn't whack my head. It would have set my training back considerably, for a second time this season. I was adamant about getting back on my bike but I couldn't move my arm. Some paramedics and a firefighter named Kevin came to my rescue. I was mangled, but alive and relatively well. Just not in shape to ride.
|All wrapped up to immobilize my bashed up shoulder.|
The girls finished the stage without me, and with 5 remaining Optum riders in the lead pack, Joëlle sprinted to a 2nd place stage finish, and got up on the 3rd step of the GC podium with the help of the Optum Pro Cycing presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies women's team. Jade kept the Queen of the Mountain Jersey, and Joëlle the sprinter's jersey, as well as the Best Young Rider, and Sprinter in the Women's Prestigue Series.
Good job girls!