30.07.2010, Geilo-Rjukan (149.5 Km – 2415 m)
[Pictures] The final stage of the Viking Tour was characterized by several victories for me: not only I was able to complete the entire tour by crossing every single finish line, but today for the first time in a week I overtook another rider during a downhill stretch! For someone bragging to have been defeated by a helium balloon during a downhill competition this was a real triumph!!! During the night I wasn’t really in the mood of another cycling day, hearing what seemed to be heavy rainfall outside and feeling pain almost everywhere in my body. Fortunately, what sounded like rain was only the noise of the ventilation system in the Valhalla and seeing relatively dry conditions outside immediately lifted my spirit. Thus, even if before the begin of the stage actually started to rain, I went underway in a good mood, eager to reach Rjukan. If the Viking Tour has taught me something, that is the follwing: once you’re on the saddle you go, whatever it happens, and that each day there are concealed energies that just wait to emerge. The first three climbs of the day where short enough to allow finding the right rhythm. The nice thing on having a moltitude of different problems while cycling, such as sore butt, stiff legs and rain to fight against, is that you can’t really focus on a single one, which avoids to be defeated by any of them. The head of the racing class caught me right at the first feeding station at the top of the third hill: of course none of them stopped to enjoy the nice cares of the fantastic feeding-station girls. On the fourth climb, the ascent to Imingsfjell, I was overtaken by the gruppetto of the racing class and with my great surprise I could stay with them almost to the top (another small victory for the day!). On the descent to Austbygd and the next feeding station I was mostly alone. There, the usual nice group of touring class riders build up for the last 30 Km to Rjukan… or to the start of the climb to Gaustatoppen. Yes, also this one was facultative for the touring class, but who wants to travel so far without crossing the last finish line? On the last kilometers before the ascent we teamed up with a rider of the racing class and the group sped up a little bit too much, so that many arrived quite tired at the foot of the climb. The first kilometers of the ascent were quite hard, mostly around 10% and with long straight stretches that didn’t allowed to much rest. Moreover, it was damn hot in my long sleeved jersey and I almost came to the idea to throw all the ballast away and to recover it during the descent, but then I saw a raining front coming up from the valley and I decided to continue with what I had on. Luckily, I could also count as usual on the support of my greatest fans in Norway, little Linus and his family, always cheering at the side of the road. After 7 Km or so the road became less steep and the final kilometer was almost downhill. It was really a good feeling to be able to finish the tour after 900 Km and almost 13000 climbing meters, the only things that mattered now were a safe descent to Rjukan and a beer to cheer on a hard but very nice and rewarding week.