Stage 2 was a very tough day, right from the very start. After a bit of drama on the first lap getting pushed wide by another skier I found myself right at the back of the pack. Turns out, on a course like this where there were several bottlenecks, it was a huge disadvantage with the concertina effect. On the steep section of the course, I found myself waiting for a good 15s just until the skiers in front of were able to start moving again! Noah Hoffman, who was in a similar position to me in terms of start rank found that he lost 45s in just the first half lap – not because we were skiing slow, but just because the field strung out so far and there was no-where to move!
I then settled into a good rhythm by the 3rd lap and was reeling in a lot of places, working with Russel Kennedy from Canada. There was a big pack, with some big name skiers all in a pack just 25s or so in front that we were working on catching back onto to. On the 4th lap, disaster struck when I broke a pole in a stumble. It was fortunate in one way that I received a pole after just having to ski one hill will one pole but unfortunately it was far too long. It must have been for a giant like Len Valjas or someone because it honestly felt a good 15cm too tall! I then received another pole after the next hill but to my frustration, it felt no smaller! After half a lap of skiing like an unbalanced fool, I finally got the right size pole from Petr who is working with us this tour.
The issues continued, because of the imbalance, the chest cramping that I was getting from the lung puncture last year came back with a vengeance! I had felt nothing before the broken pole and nothing all season, but this at the time felt like a real deal breaker. It was to the point where I was feeling light headed because I couldn’t expand my lungs properly. After a long downhill section, I managed to release it by forcing my fingers up under my rib cage and after that I was good to go! With only 1 lap to go there was minimal distance left to make up for the time loss but I managed to catch back onto Russel and another Canadian Skier which is basically where I fell off. The frustrating fact is that my body was feeling really good and I knew that I would have been able to catch that bigger group and pulled out a really good result if luck hadn’t have completed evaded me!
Looking forward is all positive though. I know I am in good shape and I have a lot to prove and intend to really put that into action in these next stages. Today is a much needed rest day here in Quebec city where we are staying in a rockn hotel overlooking this massive castle. Just behind that castle is where the race loop will be so I’m looking forward to getting out there for a light session later to check it all out!