Our man on the ground and pro racer, Matt Page is still battling away out at the front of New Zealand’s The Pioneer Stage race for MBUK (sister mag of BikeRadar). Stages 5 and 6 involved tough climbs and unbearable headwinds as the race reaches its penultimate day.
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Stage 5: 3500m of climbing makes this the dreaded day
The day that almost all riders were dreading was the Queen stage: 112km with 3500m climbing. Ouch!
Of course a few masochistic riders will look forward to the prospect of a tough day, and perhaps even use it to gain back some time. We went into the stage hoping for the best, but not exactly sure of what would happen after four days of tough racing already in our legs. From the start, the top three teams set a good tempo up the first climb, and it wasn’t long before riders were being shed out of the back of the group.
We managed to hang onto the back and as everything regrouped after a short descent and approached the second of five major climbs. The pace at the front slowed right down, with none of the three pro teams keen to take up the speed, so I got myself to the front and pushed at my own pace, not wanting to ease up at all.
The second climb suited me perfectly: 5% gradient, gradually climbing on rocky double track for 5km or so. Sam was right with me and of course both Kona Factory teams and Team Danton were along with us. After the climb a really fast, dusty track took us alongside a river with a wicked tailwind pushing us the whole way.
Stage 6: Legs left at the bottom of the hill
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Source: Bike Radar