Tour of Brunei Race Report Stage 3 & 4
Stage 3 – 86km average speed 45km
Only a short stage today…. How much could go wrong???
86kms, 2 intermediate sprints and 1 KOM. The plan is to get Hexhza into green. Sounds simple enough, but with our luck so far…. perhaps not.
Once again, from the gun, the attacks start and the racing is fast. The rain was coming so the temperature was down and therefore not much feeding to do. It was looking to be a quiet day in the car. Then 3kms before the first intermediate sprint “Team Eddy Hollands – Puncture – number 91” Damit… here we go again, this time Eddy starts it off. A relatively quick wheel change with the assistance of Samai who is now in the team car.
Just as we’re starting to roll off, I see Will slowing down through the convoy. Thinking that he’s dropping back to help Eddy, we’re just about to drive past him. Then he yells “Puncture! Front Wheel”
The change was a little slower than it should have been and we were already at the back of the convoy so the situation was looking grim for Big Will. The bunch was racing hard and we needed him to help Eddy to get back to the peleton – so with questionable assistance (and a CHF$90 fine) we eventually got Will to Eddy so they could work together to get back on.
Meanwhile, at the front of the race Hexzha went for the first intermediate sprint alone and got 4th, giving him another point towards the Green Jersey. With that done, he came straight back into the convoy to find Eddy and Will. At one point, we had 3 of our riders doing a team time trial, weaving through the convoy at around 70kms an hour.
At the end of the day, in Eddy’s words, “I almost didn’t make it”…
The rain was pelting and at the first KOM Will was clearly exhausted from the chase and he started going backwards with a few other riders. At this point, my left arm felt broken and weak from 2 days of sticky bottles and there wasn’t much more I could do but give him one last strong biddon, getting him back to the convoy. He eventually made it.
The race was still moving fast and throughout the 80+ kms it was always staying together with every attempt at a break being brought back by the Iranians and Malaysians. Steve fired a strong bullet at 5kms to go but was brought back swiftly. Then Neil fired another strong bullet at 3km to go, but that was brought back quickly too. Then with 1km to go… CRASH, and Hexzha is down.
With complaints from many teams, the commissaries decided to give everyone in the last 3km the same time. Meaning Hexzha stays in the top 11 GC and is still coming second in the fight for the Green Jersey.
Stage 4 – 106km with rolling hills – average speed 43km
WE’RE IN GREEN!
Finally our luck has turned and things went according to plan.
At around the 40km point Hexhza was in a decisive break of 6 riders, managing to stay away for most of the day. And the Green jersey holder wasn’t there! There was, however, a rider from the same team of the current Green Jersey holder which meant Hexzha had to try hard for the sprint points, managing to get 2nd and 1st in both sprints. This was enough to secure the lead for Green.
Back in the bunch, things were pretty sedate. The Red Jersey holder from 711 secured his dominance but other than that, there wasn’t much action. 2 riders attacked Hexzha’s group with 15km and go, the remaining 4 (including Hex) were picked up by the peleton with 10km to go.
Team Malaysia chased hard to get the other 2 riders but they managed to get to the line with about 15seconds. Big Will got the courage up and got 4th in the bunch sprint, securing a 6th place.