Stage 4: Tuesday, January 29th – A Very Dark Place: 55:00
So far, the first three days of the Tour of Sufferlandria have challenged you to long, sustained efforts. The second part of Day 3, Fight Club, brought a little bit of scrappy intensity into the race as Cancellara and Evans made their initial moves. By this point, depending on how you’ve gone so far, you’ll be feeling a either a little feeble or a little brave. You should, however, be feeling a little worried as you’re about to go somewhere….dark.
Leaving the long efforts behind, but certainly not a distant memory from your legs’ point-of-view, you now go head first into A Very Dark Place. With five 4:00 high-intensity efforts, AVDP keeps you in the 8-10/10 range of exertion. It’s not a long stage – only 55:00 – but it throws everything at you. You’re going to have to time trial, climb, accelerate, sprint and get over the cobbles. It’s a shift from the past few days and you’ll need your wits about you to make that change.
Think of it as one of those Tour de France stages in the midi where it’s lumpy and fast, ripe for opportunists. With that in mind, you’ll have to fend off attacks from guys like Cancellara (again), Gilbert, the Schlecks, Rodriquez and even Brad Wiggins has threatened to be in the mix.
How to get through it: Mentally, the warm-up may be tough. With three days in you, it’s likely that you’ll be a little disappointed by how your legs are feeling. Buck up and stay positive. Use the first interval to gauge where you really are and increase the intensity over that first 4:00. The third interval, with constant attacks by Gilbert over the same hills used in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, will give you an idea of whether you’re going to survive or not – if you’re at breaking point, try to just cover the attacks and think of saving a bit for the next day. When it’s over, make sure you get hydrated and eat and get some rest. These are the days that are going to make or break your chances to complete the entire Tour.