Today's queen stage of Austria was tough! It was 199km and had 4 mountains totaling over 3000 meters of climbing. I tried for the early break and was in the first move that was looking good, but we were eventually reeled back in. I was at the front when the final move went and was kicking myself after it went because I hesitated to jump. Oh well! I was busy trying to get the bee stinger out of my shin actually! When I was in the front, a bee hit me directly in my shin. I swiped it off, but evidently ripped the stinger off the bee because when I looked down, it was still in my leg. I did get it out and went to the medical car to get some cream hoping to avoid a reaction. Now it is just sore like a muscle bruise.
After the break was gone, we rode a soild tempo all day up and down everything. It was almost never easy, even on the descents. The climbs were long and steady all day. The queen mountain was the Großglöckner which was something like 16km at 7+% with the summit above 2500 meters. We did the same climb last year finishing at a ski station I think. This year we turned on a different road about half way up. The pass we took is actually higher than the finish of the other road. After a small descent, we climbed another 2km steep section to begin the real descent of 20+km. It was a super fast and twisty descent, but thankfully it was a fairly big road. After a long valley road, we came past the turn to the finish town in order to take in another 15km climb that was average 5% gradient. It was deceiving on the course profile because it looked steady the whole way. It was actually quite shallow for the first 12km and kicked really hard in the last 3 at an average of 15%. It was a nice way to cap off the long, slow burn that was in the legs all day. I guess I shouldn't forget the final 2km to the finish that provided another drag and steep kick in the final 200 meters. I guess to summarize it, the day was up, up, up, down, up, up, up!
For me, I was happy to finish with the front group. I guess a couple guys stayed off the front in an impressive show of strength considering the stage profile. I didn't really know what the race situation was because no one was giving us any information. No radios and no info from the motos makes it difficult to keep track. In the end, I was trying to help Geoffroy stay in the front and protect his GC and try for the sprint. When the final acceleration happened, my legs said no. The next stages are sprint stages with a TT on Saturday. Hoping to just keep the rubber side down and continue to improve my fitness.