Finally, what looked to be a normal TransPortugal day, sunny, no rain but still a little cool with plenty of wet ground to cover. The mood was lighter all around, but particularly amongst the staff. Tiago, the race director, looked as if about a hundred pounds had been lifted from his shoulders.
The pattern of the last few days held with Tom and Edgar from Mexico lined up at the front of the group, that morning flanked by Sergio (Portuguese) and Guy (Canadian). Overall, an easier stage at 95 km but still with plenty of climbing, some it very steep even if the climbs were short.
The last stage is interesting in that some riders are totally relaxed as they have nothing left to prove and know that their position in GC is solid, to those that are going hard to try one more time for a better stage finish or to move up that one place in GC. Tom tried to ride hard but didn’t have much left in the legs. He felt better towards the end of the stage and finished strongly. 18th on the day, 12th overall!
The last 40 km or so is mostly along high cliffs above the ocean. Some of the most spectacular scenery you can imagine. Then comes the party on the beach. A jump into the sea and the ground finish photo. Plenty of very happy faves faces and beers all around.
The morning after is bitter sweet. Riders and staff happy that they get to rest but lots of sadness too. This is such a great event with a small field so you get to know a lot of your fellow competitors and make wonderful new friendships forged in suffering and adversity. Some of these new friends we may never see again. But we have lots of new contacts with invitations to stay from all corners of the globe.
We headed back to the Ecork hotel with a stop along the way to surf, then to pick up a left item at the last hotel and I finally got a really good arroz de marisco for lunch. We slept for a very long time in a quiet and very comfortable, giant, fluffy bed.
Tom is currently breaking down his bike to go back into his Ritchey case. Things that I’m hearing from our lovely shared patio, “ruined”, “rusty”, grinding of parts being disconnected, “never going to be the same”… The bike is destroyed. The frame will be OK but pretty much everything else will need replacing. I just watched him throw a shredded saddle and saddle bag in the trash.
Today is for site seeing in Évora, thank you visits to the bike shops and a long awaited dinner with an old friend. It feels strange to be truly on vacation with a relaxed, loose schedule. Sleep, eat, visit.