STAGE 3 – VEJLE to SØNDERBORG

Stage 3 begins with some bad news, the repairs to the bike didn’t work. Whilst my spare hanger was for a Trek Madone SLR it would only fit bikes with rim brakes, mine has discs. But the good news is that the Tour 21 team are experienced, when there is a target of £1,000,000 for Cure Leukaemia you have to plan ahead, they carry spare bikes from Ribble cycles and with some frantic work from Graham our mechanic the measurements were checked and the spare bike was set up for me, the power meter was swapped over and I was ready to go out to ride Stage 3. As I rode to the start plans were being hatched to find a new hanger, back in the UK Andy was scrolling the internet, calling Mike, who has a number of Trek bikes, well a lot of Trek bikes really, and Dave who has the same model but in red. There was soon a message back from Andy saying he’d found a couple of options, but the difficulty would be getting it to me. Graham found a shop in Hamburg so that is our best option as we drive to Stage 4 in Dunkirk. Andy found a second option in Utrecht also, so things look good for being back on my favourite bike for the next stage.

On my ‘New’ bike, it was in to the car park at 7:00am ready for a 7:15am start. Back at home we have a Tuesday Night ride we call ‘The Loops’, the start and finish today should be called the loops. Leaving the start we were only a minute or so down the road when we stopped at a junction travelling west to east. Exactly an hour later we were back at the same junction, travelling north to south, having ridden in a 20 Kilometre loop back to where we started. Vejle is known as the ‘Hilly’ part of Denmark, Andy (who by his on admission doesn’t like hills) would love it here, todays ride was slightly more hilly than yesterday with 1,000 extra feet of climbing but is was, well, basically flat. As we road south the Danish had once again decorated there town in Yellow, Green and Polka dot, even a manhole cover had been embosed with the ‘Tour De France Grande Depart Copenhagen Denmark 2022’ with a yellow ring around the edge. Bikes were hanging above our heads and even a massive Transformer figure at the side of the road.

Today went without a major incident, a small puncture for Doug, but that was it. My saddle on the Ribble was not as comfortable as the Trek so Graham, who had already made some adjustments at our first break, decided at the second stop to change it to my Trek saddle, which was far better and along with fitting my Wahoo to the handlebars (it had been in my pocket up until then) I was on a bike I would be comfortable to ride on for the rest of the day. As for the roads they were mainly nice and smooth although Stage 5 will not see the first cobbled sections in the Tour, there were many sections of cobbles through the towns an villages we rode through, none too taxing but an indication of what was to come. We leave Denmark tonight, after the finish we will travel to Hamburg for our overnight stop, as I rode though the countryside I though that visiting this country has been a wonderful experience. Riding here is a highlight of my cycling experiences, I am so lucky to be on this team getting to see the beautiful countryside and spotlessly clean villages and towns, the best thing about riding a bike is you get a different perspective and a longer opportunity to soak in the sights that you do in a car. I will be sad to leave, but at the same time excited to be riding in France for the first time on this trip.

The last part of the ride today was Sonderborg, with 10km to go we dropped down a short hill, the start of a ‘Strava section’, and a few kilometres further was the bridge that took us in to Sonderborg. The bridge had been painted Yellow and will surely see the Sprint Teams jostling for position at they enter the twisty streets in the lead up to the final sprint. First it was the second of our loops today, the road bent round slowly to the left finally bringing under the same yellow bridge we had just crossed. Watch this on the TV – if there is a breakaway you might see the leaders going under the bridge as the peloton chases them down. We were then heading south as part of our third loop taking us around the town before heading back toward the centre for the final sprint straight.

Our tour bus was waiting just beyond the finish line and we were soon all on board and off towards Hamburg for an overnight stop before a day of travelling to Dunkirk for Stage 4. Just a couple of things to do on the bus, like upload my ride to Strava, and WOW! 17.8 mph for the day, and as for that last 10 km Strava section, I am the fastest woman to complete it at 21 minutes and 54 seconds, over a minute faster than any other woman, a ‘CROWN’, Queen of the Mountains on the Tour De France.

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