The tripe to Venice airport was trouble free and the weather was looking good for the weekend. The course was very fast and flat (apart from a couple of small climbs). It was a very early start on the Sunday morning I had to be up by 5am ready to be collected at 6am by the race transport, due to the race starting at 8:30am. The weather was great, which makes a pleasant change this year, at the start I got myself ready and on the bike to start my warm-up. This was going okay until along the start came a dance troop, marching band and a lot of people. No one said there was going to be a parade at the start, I wish they had told me as I was stuck behind it for 15 minutes trying to warm-up. I eventually made my way to the start and was put on the front row for a change, but I was on the very far right tight against the sponsor’s boards. When the gun went I shot right across the road towards the middle to give me a clear space, and at this point lead the race out from the start. The pace was fast from the start and at first no one wanted to take over at the front to help, until the first climb the a group of riders attacked hard and started to split the group of 100 riders. I was in the attack and broke away with the lead group by this time doing 30mph (which is fast using just your arms). The course took the riders though many nice villages and small towns, but I did not have time to look at anything apart from the bike wheels in front of me. There were many little attacks along the way, and one rider even got away on his own. No one made a move to chase him I guess because he broke to soon with half the distance to go, and the group pulled him back after a short time. On the next attack I went to change gear and all I got was noise and no gear change, my gears were jumping every were. I had to slow down to sort the problem out which meant I dropped off the group and they gained about 500 meters on me by the time I had it sorted. I had to work very hard to make the distance and my heart rate was at 180 bpm, which was 96% of my maximum heart rate. At on point I thought I was never going to catch them, but I did after about 12 minutes.
I recovered at the back of the group and missed a few turns on the front to rest, but another attack came so I did not have long to recover. On the last 2.5 Km of the course I was taken by surprise by large cobbles (no one had told me about these), I hit them at just under 30mph and my chain decided to jump off which lost me a few seconds. The cobbles took a lot of energy out of my arms, and I thought my bike was going to fall to bits. The riders attacked just before the end of the cobbles and I looked up to see the finish in sight. There was a mad sprint to the finish line with the very large crowd shouting and cheering loud. I crossed the line in 5th place with a time of 1 hour 7 minutes (everyone had the same times). This was a new PB as my best time over 26 miles before was 1 hour 12 minutes, so I took 5 minutes off this time. That’s the fastest time a UK rider has done over 26 miles, so not bad for a weekends work.