Take care riding through the resort, the morning traffic is edgy until you get out on the open road to Fataga at 3km, first test is 7km to the Mirador de Fataga and if you have hot sun, it will a test on the legs, from the carpark, a long fast descent through the zig zags down to 200m and a climb all the up past Fataga at 600m to the Pipeline carpark at 850m, where you can see the second half of the route to Pico.
The wall of the caldera faces us flinty yellow in the morning sun, at the very top to the left a bit of a triangular rock is a sliver of white, that's the coffee wagon that is there to dispense treats to the hardly souls who make it that far to 1951m
The account for today shows a 400m climb to Cruz Grande, a start down the Walk of Shame and up past Risco Blanco, annoyingly hard for so early in the ride, incidentally it was this section that I tried to stay with Alberto Contador when he lit it up in training with the team and cars coming up behind, I stayed with him while he done his Bertie Bounce, but sooner than expected I had to revisit last week's dinner after about 300m,threw a shoe and retired to the paddock a wiser man.
Cruz Grande is where we get together for the 10km flat run to Ayacata, first and last chance to have a coffee, before we hit the hardest section of the day, the section from Ayacata to Roquo Nublo, take on some dried fruit, a shared Coke might be beneifical too, a full tin is too much belly gas on the climb.
This part is 3.5km with a high ave of 11% and a max of 18% on one of the final corners. From Roquo Nublo car park and kiosk, it exactly 9km and 400 plus metres of climbing to go, you can see your goal, the round green ball that contains some military radar installations. There's many false flats to come so spin easily and fluidly and your legs will be ready for the sharp ramps yet to come.
We get together at 5km and 400m to go at Cruz LLanos, so deffo take on some dates or a banana from the car. Not a gel because you'll peak too late for when you need it and too early for the final stretch, always stay on the right of the road no matter what roads appear on your left.
So now you made Pico, dried off, had a top up of food and water, we descend into the north towards San Mateo before making our way back up on a perfect stretch of road we've nicknamed the Stelvio of GC, it's a good safe place for a chase back to Cruz de Tejeda climbing about 500m in 6km.