Stage 7, deva-station. The last one, the last stage, and when you are holding a podium position overall or category by a slim margin, this is where the racing gets real.
The local police lead out the peloton for a lap of the town, they drive off and the pain train kicks in. Groups form early, riders attempting to hold that wheel, get on board for a tow. Miss it and your spirally back to another group.
|Photo: CHLOE GERAGHTY|
The pace can be brutal, every undulation testing, succumb to the pace and watch those other riders pull away. Find a friend, work together. The sections of trail flow but it is super loose single-track. There are more casulties, offs, endos, scratches, bruises. You power on hoping you’re not the next victim. How far to go? How much energy? You dig deeper, pain in temporary. You fly pass riders with mechanicals, a quick “you-right?” for their “yes thanks”. More rocks and a river crossing, there isn’t to far to the end. A sprint across the grass and you’ve made it!