On paper this was the easiest stage of the lot, but in the mountains things generally do not go to plan. Soon after the start the rain begins and stays with us all day. Suddenly an easy stage becomes cold and treacherous.We race up the Mendola but no matter how hard I work I do not warm up and I know the long descent will be a tad chilly! On the descent we battle with the conditions trying hard to stay in control of the bike as the roads become so wet. It was super cold but we just had to buckle down and push on to the lunch stop. At lunch we all huddled together in a tent eating soup, luckily my luggage was in a nearby van, so in a layby I was able to do a full kit change. I didn't care about baring my behind to the traffic in the view of getting warm. One rider, soon after arriving at the stop, was shivering uncontrollably and had to be rushed into the van in a blanket to warm up. Now comfortable, dry and fed, we had to leave the tent and get back into the rain.
The afternoon had just one climb but at 26km it was long. Approaching the base of the climb I realised I'd made a school boy error. In the rush at the feed stop I had forgot to refill my bottles. Even on a wet day, drinking water is essential. Halfway up I notice a tap but the legs are moving well so I decided not to stop. I knew that once at the top there was only a short 10km descent to the next hotel. Into the hotel and a quick hot chocolate before I realise that my luggage is still the other side of the mountain, I manage to borrow some clothes and grab a much needed shower. Walking back down the stairs to the lobby in another man's clothes (and underwear) felt very old but when in Italy………... :)