Today’s stage was hard. Really hard. I don’t think many riders expected it to be as difficult as it turned out to be today, and that was all because of the crosswinds. The leading group went almost straight away after the neutralised zone, and to give you an idea what it’s like in those conditions, I didn’t even realise the leaders had gone clear.
I was riding head down, fighting for position, trying to keep on the wheel in front and attempting to stay sheltered.
Once the group went away, my Liv-Plantur team-mates tried to get me to the front. But by then gap was up to 50 seconds already, and there’s not much you can do from there.
Were we aware that the peloton may break up early today? Yes. I wasn’t strong enough, but it was good that we got Amy Pieters in the front group. It is just a shame we couldn’t get anybody else in there to help her out and give us some options.
The roads are so long and so open here, and I think that’s what can make this race and the conditions as tough as anywhere else. They can go on for ages. If you compare that to Belgium or the Netherlands, the straight roads aren’t as long and more corners break them up. When it’s full gas here, it stays like that for a lot longer in comparison.
My group settled down slightly when we realised that we weren’t getting back across to the leaders. However, the pace was still high, and on the finishing circuit laps it split up again and I got caught behind. We managed to get back in time for the finish, but that summed that day up – one of frantic, continuous action.