Then comes the moment to accelerate, with a famous intermediate sprint positioned at about the quarter-way point of the race (whoever wins the sprint leaves with a nice cheque!). At that moment, I said to myself, well, the legs aren’t really responding, the peloton is stretching out, I really must make the effort and hold on!
Here I am with 2 or 3 girls in the middle of the back of the peloton.
After the sprint, I thought it would calm down, but no! The famous ascent of the Tremplin is a real battlefield. Now braking, now accelerating, I try to find my rhythm. It's exhausting, then halfway through comes the steep Pontresina descent. I take the opportunity to swallow a gel, drink regularly, my thighs start to heat up and the sensations are about average. And here we go again for 20 km of flat, undulating terrain where you absolutely mustn’t fall asleep. The wind picks up and I find myself alone for 12 km: the hardest part of my race. I struggle by changing pace and steps to avoid falling asleep, hoping to reach the finish as quickly as possible. A few groups come by, and each time I try to “tag along” with them.
Then, 8 km before the finish line, there I am with a group of guys, a Norwegian, 2 Swiss etc. I pull myself together, knowing that now is the time to give it my all, and I lead the group, but during the descent, I put myself in the middle, to continue my effort skiing in “economy” mode. They “drag” me along until the group explodes away 2 kilometres from the finish. I find two girls who were playing the top 20! I hang on, one of them lets go, there are two of us and I know that just before the finish straight, there’s a small descent, with a bend. I stay behind, pick up the “tow”, take the inside on the bend because I don't necessarily have a very good finish, making sure I have 2 or 3 km/h more to finish the sprint. It worked! I throw myself across and come crashing down after the line. Lastly !!