Stage one was always going to be a tough day. 40km was in the brochure but 49.8km was the distance on the Garmin. I was tossing up between taking a camel back or 2 drink bottles and I'm glad I went for the camelback option.
The race started with a 6km mass ride with a police car setting the pace. After the police car turned off the pace picked up amazingly. I was pretty keen on letting the fast boys go as the pace was a lot faster than what I wanted to go.
The second part of the race was fireroad that followed the railway line before crossing over and following a trail called "hells trail" or something like that. And as Hell would be, the track was punishing. The punishment was so severe I'm borrowing a rear wheel for the rest of the week. I didn't just break a spoke but managed to crack the DT Swiss carbon rim that I was using. This didn't affect my performance at all and I just thought I had a small buckle in the rim.
In the last 16km after the feed zone I was riding with Ben Henderson. We had AJ out the from and we could see him each hill climb. The track was so twisty and windy it was pretty hard to make up and ground and we ended up finishing about a minute back. I was pretty happy for a second, but a 1 minute gap is quite significant on one of the smaller stages!