Stage 1. Queen stage. 95km, 3050m climbing.
That was one tough day in the saddle. Around the start line it was pretty surreal, lining up in the same starting box as the people I have been watching on TV for years – even as the race started I stuck with them until it got a bit steep. Stu stuck with them a little longer.
Heading out of Verbier on the same climb as the Grand Raid brought back great memories and the views were as incredible as ever. There was a huge pile up in a tunnel near the top, which I was held up in and it also caused problems for the Specialized ladies – although they did carry on.
From the top I was expecting a gravel descent, but it was mostly singletrack and lots of fun after I was finally able to get past other riders. The middle third was a little mixed, some tarmac and some gravel roads and also lots of singletrack alongside irrigation channels, which was cool.
The final third was brutal, with steep climbs, rooty but mostly flat singletrack and the final 10km was just a wall to the finish. It was a real grind and I am sure that 98% of the riders would have been walking up it. We crossed the line in 22nd overall and 21st in the Mens race.
Full results available from Datasport
Matt’s Stage 1 video (Warning! Contains swearing, sorry Mum)