Around km 135 we had a 2km section of cobblestones and I had decent position but couldn't go the pace over the cobbles. I was simply ridden off the wheel, bouncing everywhere trying to figure out how to put the power into the pedals. We finally came out of it, and I was in a small chase group that came back to the main bunch, but there was a small group of favorites off the front, which was good for us because Wagner was in there. The race leader had actually crashed along with his teammate who was second, so Wagner was virtual race leader. I thought the deal was sealed, but our group put in a massive chase, and everything came back together in time for the 3 local circuits.
During the local laps I was hanging on for dear life. Honestly my legs were not too bad (I don't think, but I couldn't feel half my body, so who knows!), but I was too far back in the bunch and getting ripped to pieces by the small roads, turns, and accelerations out of the corners. There is only so much one guy can do against a team on the front going 50+kmh. It simply isn't possible to just "move up" when it is so fast. Several times actually I was dropped but came back. I think I thought my race was over 4-5 times, but magically I would come back! In the end though, I met my fate when a guy in front of me hit a "parallel" crack in the road and ate it, skidding everywhere in front of me. The gap opened, and it wasn't possible to come back alone in the last 3km when the peloton is going 60+kmh.
I was exhausted (4:35, ~188km, 260 watt avg, 4300kjs) and glad to cross the finish line unscathed; although, I imagine I will be digging dirt and animal excrement out of my eyes and ears for the next week! I took my glasses off about 65km into the race because I could see absolutely nothing. I felt it was more dangerous with them on than without. It was largely ok, but at the end it got rainy again, and the tire spray was painful. I tried to put my glasses back on, but they were so dirty, it was useless. I suffered to the finish, wiping my eyes every so often to try and help the burn, but it was useless. Despite those discomforts, I am really happy to have had the chance to do the race. It provided me really good experience in fighting for position, and it was definitely good for my condition. I felt I was missing the top end gear before this, but I definitely might get something now! For now, I am happy to get home to Lisa have a couple days relaxing.