Cory Wallace’s Journal – GC Leader after Stage Six
Stage 6: 110 km
The day started off with a nice tailwind as we headed west towards the ancient Altai Mountains. I was nervous and had toiler paper packed in my jersey in case any bathroom stops were required. It was a rough start to the day as bunch of Mongolian riders attacked which left me dangling off the back. The Mongolians here have been the most aggressive riders by far. They giver all they have and put us in the hurt locker on most mornings with their early morning attacks. Endurance has been an issue for these guys as it is seldom they can keep it together to the finish line. This may be partly due to their food tactics of stuffing cornflakes, eggs, tomatoes and meat in there jersey pockets.
When Pau (Team Buff) saw me dangling off the back as a result from the Mongol attacks, he upped the tempo as he has been on a mission to get into the top 3 and has been taking full advantage of anything any of us three Kona riders will give him. Struggling along I managed to get back up to the lead group and would waver there for the next couple of hours as I dreamed about getting to the toilets at the finish line.
The riding itself was smooth, sandy and scenic as we passed herds of horses and numerous Ger huts and there inhabitants out to cheer us along. At km 70 we entered a wide valley and rode past herds of Yak as we slowly climbed up over 2,300 meters into a cooler/lusher Mongolian environment. Riding up this broad valley was a highlight of last year’s race, and will likely be one of this year’s ride as well as it is the gate to the real Mongolian outback. Off the beaten track, the land is pristine, unspoiled and wild. It is 100% pure Mongolian out here.
Nearing the finish line the lead group of us hit a steep 20%, 1 km climb which would leave the 3 of us Kona guys together for the finish, with Carter Hovey (Team MBC Racing p/b Orbea-SMP) and Pau (Team Buff) coming in shortly behind. Kris Sneddon (Kona) took the victory on the day which means there have been 6 different winners over the first 6 stages.
Crossing the finish line meant a bathroom run for myself and a food tent run for the other riders. The food here has been plentiful and healthy. It is true, some of the herds of animals we have rode by have been missing a member. Apparently the chef's are also hunters. 90% of us aren't complaining about this as fresh goat, sheep, cow and yak meat have been a highlight of many of our days out here. Pure & lean protein.
Tomorrow we will hit the “Queen’s stage”: 132 km of Mongolian mountainous heaven.