The bad weather was with us from the start today. At the start line everyone
was looking up at the sky trying to figure out what it was going to do. Would it
rain the whole day, would there only be short downpours, or would it be dry half
an hour down the road?
Right from kilometer one people started attacking off the front, giving us no
time to warm-up our legs a bit. I remember in years past where we would ride
alone at a conservative pace for 20 kilometers or more before people would start
attacking - times have changed.
My teammate Luis Perez is in the mountain jersey today so we (Cofidis) took
over at the front and pulled the peloton up the first climb, letting Luis take
the points. At the top of the climb, when no one expects it, a group of four
riders took off on their break.
This can be a good situation for the peloton because normally when there is
already a group off the front no one else attacks. We let the sprinters’ teams
take over and are able to relax a bit.
After we caught the group, the weather cleared up and we were traveling on a
dry road for awhile which allowed for more attacks and a faster pace. Towards
the finish a dark cloud came over with a strong wind quickly changing that
situation. The last ten or so kilometers were a bit dangerous with lots of round
abouts, and painted road marks that are aways slippery.
At one point, about 7 kms from the finish, we encountered a gasoline spill on
the road and everyone started screaming to be careful, but like always, there
are lots of warning calls but with the finish line so close the speed doesn’t
decrease. Luckily there were no curves.
About 1.5 kms from the finish there was a sharp turn to the left and a few
folks went down - Luis and many others had one foot out of the pedals to keep
from going down as well.
Petacchi took an easy win. This year he has certainly proved his worth and
talent ten times over. It is incredible that he can win so effortlessly against
such kings as Zabel.
After the race thoughts: sometimes we all think we are crazy. When we are
racing we act differently—we forge ahead even when we can’t see 500 meters
ahead, or when we encounter an oil spill without even slowing down - all so as
not to lose a few precious seconds. No matter if you are half and hour off the
leader you don’t risk losing a second. No one would train like this at home, but
a race is a race.
Well I am off to shower. I am covered in gasoline and smell and look like I
have been pumping gas all day.
Bingen Fernandez Bustinza
Yellow Jersey Tours
Water spraying off the road. Click for larger image.