You’ve climbed mountains, you’ve broken away, you’ve time trialled yourself into another time zone. All the big names came after you: Evans, Wiggins, Cancellara, Sagen, Boonen, Chavanel, Voeckler, Voigt, Froome, Pooley and Vos. Even Neils Albert went after you! You dispatched them all so far. Your courage has been inspirational. The Minions – the Minions! – they’re screaming your name. The entire Nation of Sufferlandria is behind you now – so close to victory.
And what do we have on the table for this, the last day in our National Tour? Fittingly, nothing less than Local Hero. Today, with leaden legs, but a quickening, enthusiastic heart, you’ll need to get through an 85 minute stage. But this isn’t just any stage: it covers nearly every discipline but track. You’ll need to bring out your cyclocross, criterium, time trialling and circuit road racing skills to be in with a shout. After the initial easy procession, you’ll go head-to-head against Porte, Millar and Cancellara in the TTs and then into five laps of a 3:00 circuit race. Doesn’t sound too hard, until you realise that some of the other guys close on GC, such as Nibali, Gilbert and Evans are all going to be attacking EVERY LAP. When you get near the finish, we’ve got a little twist: you’ll have to sprint, not once, not twice, not three times – but FOUR FREAKING TIMES (as even Bugno, Lemond and Cipollini come after YOUR glory) in order to win the Tour of Sufferlandria Leader’s Jersey.
When that last sprint it over, and you coast across the line, sobbing with relief, we also hope that you did enough to soak up the GLORY and HONOR that comes with THE VICTORY.
WILL YOU BE CHAMOIS DANCING WHEN IT’S ALL OVER?
How to get through it: This is not the day to relax. This is the day to hit them with everything you’ve got. It can be easy, at this late stage in the game, to overcook yourself in the time trials leading up to the road race, so pay attention to how you’re feeling. Once in the road race, though, it’s all gloves off. Nail those attacks by Gilbert. Go with Evans. And when Hushovd makes his final push for the line, make him wish he never got into cycling in the first place. That’s how a Sufferlandrian does it.