Next 20km or so were fairly flat, I even took a half dozen pulls to at least appear to not mooch too hard. Doesn't really matter when it's like a half hour up and down to placings and its last day. Somewhere along a vast valley a series of attacks went when I was doing a coasting pee at the back. Shoot. I rolled down my short leg and realized this was going to be a lot of work. Took me about 20 minutes to get back on which was simultaneous to the bottom of a climb where group really was breaking up. This, combined with the starting climb, meant i was just furiously burning matches all day, not the likes of how I'd usually do a ride that long, but legs were working. I kept pedalling hard and a group of 3 formed. Eventually a Mongolian dropped and Matt from Kelowna joined. We blew through aid 2 and rode hard to next climb, passed a couple stragglers. I crested climb with a guy who's strong but has been sketchy all week, I didn't want to descend behind him so I gave it a few kicks. We came on a hard right turn in a high speed part that I rounded, he apparently didn't see, and he blows it off into the rocks. I'm way down already at that speed and hear screaming, so I stop as does Matt, and we're waving our arms and pointing the vehicles over there - turns out later we hear he dislocated his shoulder but they put it back in and he still finished. Glad I rode my own line up front.
Matt and I caught one other Mongolian. He needed something like 6 minutes for 3rd in our category and was feeling shelled. I said there's no mulligans to try again if we got in with only 5:59 up so he popped a gel and off we went. I said he'd hate me at the finish for the suffering until 6 mins passed on the clock and started a half hour pull. Felt solid and went a good tempo. We could see the finish which is a ger camp/kingdom looking thing up in the shelter of some rock cliffs, but what we didn't see is the loop that did every climb around the mountain so we could see an old fort, lookout, camels, etc. I took off on the climbs as I saw two guys out front, and was barely catching them until we rounded back to the front of the hill in a huge headwind section, just put my head down a d worked. 90 degree right turn took us straight up the last 1km straight shot grass climb to the finish. I finished 11th for a high point of the race at the end. Cory won. I ended up second to Belgian Tom overall and had three days of master wins when I was feeling good, or other way of looking at it I was 17th overall. Matt did get third with today's effort.
We're staying in a palatial ger, dining in a huge one too with wolf skins and eagles mounted by the throne.