If I had to pick my favourite part of today I’d really struggle. Every single drop of the 350km blast was exceptional, taking in three special stage challenges throughout the day. The first one came about after a couple of hours tearing our way on loose trails through an enormous wooded area, casually dodging the huge logging lorries that appear around corners with no hint of a warning. It was a great ride and the UK team was buzzing come the time we arrived at a roadside fire trail, to be told we needed to choose two riders to perform a towing challenge along a 3km route. It’s something the guys hadn’t had chance to practice, but John Small and Jon Crockett put in a stunning performance as they set off together down the rough and winding route, unfortunately coming unstuck on a climb over loose rocks.
Stopping meant we scored zero points for the exercise, which was mastered by Team France. It was gutting, but the guys pulled themselves together and soon began enjoying themselves on the next set of trails. It’s impossible not too, unless you find yourself a victim of the terrain. Two more bikes were pulled up from sheer drops where the riders had careered off the road. In far less dramatic fashion, I had my first crash of the day when I lost control on a dry, stone riverbed. To make matters worse, I then dug my rear wheel as deep as the axel trying to get myself going again. It was far from impressive, unlike the effort of Team GB on the second challenge of the day; a sprint across a fast flowing river on bike, with two supporters guiding the bike and rider over the submerged rocks. The UK lads clocked the fifth fastest time of the day picking up valuable points.