Because legs seemed to have come back, I took a punt when the flag was waived and was the first one to attack. My gap did not last long and I was caught rather quickly. More attacks kept flying up the road as we raced towards the steepest section of the climb, and I was responding to the moves quite comfortably and staying near the front of the peloton. It had already broken up considerably before the climb proper started and once we hit the 15-18% slopes, I also fell back and climbed at my own pace; however, when it ‘flattened’ to about 10% I got into a steady rhythm and started to overtake riders that obviously went too fast in the beginning. Going over the top, I was with a couple of riders and picked up more on the nice roller-coaster ride to the village. We caught the lead bunch right at the bottom, coming through the dusty village and starting the second, but longer, climb that suited me a bit better. I rolled with the lead group and was hanging on, just. At the very top, I was still in contact with the lead group, but a rider came up to me and handed a quarter bottle of coca-cola which I gladly grabbed and took a few seconds to gulp it down. In hindsight, this could have been some sort of tactic to disconnect me, who knows. If it was, it was successful. I was already in the red for a while and the action of taking the coca-cola served to drop me back about 20m, I did not have the energy to zip back on before the fast downhill started.
I did take the time to savior the view of the ocean and the jungle as I descended rather circumspectly. Then, like stage three, I just went ‘ka-boom’; I struggled up the super steep grade and was rapidly dwindling on my fluid supplies but I did have one gel in my pocket, which proved to be the ace up my sleeve to help rejuvenate my ride. I was also lucky to get handed bottles of cold water at critical time points and also got a couple of small bananas to munch down while starting lap two. I was caught by the second group but failed to stay with them, however the next group from another category caught up with me. It was a bunch of 46 plus older dudes and they dropped me too. However, my resurgence was starting and the legs were coming back. I caught up with several of the riders cresting the climb and on the roller-coaster proceeded to reel in more riders. The pace-setting was feeling good, but then no-one was pulling through so I thought it would be best to cruise the roller-coaster. Craig Green (Matador) and Ernie (Mossimo) were the only ones on the front trying to get a pace-line going, flicking their elbows and asking riders to rotate through the pace-line. They were not getting any help. Craig Green at that time was the leader of the category and no one was going to pull. I started to help by rotating through and once we passed through the dusty village for the second time, I went to the front again and did a long steady 300-watt pull, with two Filipino riders glued to my wheel. I did not realize that I had caused some damage and some riders had been gapped and thrown into the red. One of them was Craig Green and also Ernie, who had been following behind Green. I finished the long pull at the top of the climb and free-wheeled down the descent, following the wheels of Ernie and Green.