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Stage 4: The Day after the Rain by Bingen Fernandez
By Staff
Date: 9/9/2003
Stage 4: The Day after the Rain by Bingen Fernandez

Our day did not begin very pleasantly. While we were eating breakFEAST our team masseurs brought us yesterday’s clothes that they had washed. As we headed to our rooms the other riders and I started pulling out our clothes and comparing them to see who had the cleanest socks or jersey. They looked just as bad as they did when we took them off. Millar came into Iñigo Cuesta's and my room complaining as well and asking if our clothes were just as bad. Unfortunately, they were.

After breakfast we start looking out the windows manically. Was it going to be another one of those days? The weather affects what you are going to wear greatly. If it was going to be another dreadful day with rain I might as well just wear yesterday’s clothes since they are only going to get dirty again, but if it is going to be dry I will take out a new set to wear. It isn’t that we don’t have tons of new jerseys and bibs to wear—both the riders and the team directors like to be in new uniforms to look our best—but it is tough to take out a new set of riding gear if you know they will only look good for while you are signing in and eventually end up like yesterday’s - Iñigo and I put on yesterday’s clothes.

(Okay, getting my massage now which is much appreciated.)

When it is one of those days, and has been raining, your muscles harden up no matter what the temperature. When it is raining the legs don’t loosen up and they retain water, making it one of the worst riding conditions for a cyclist.

Today during the neutralization zone all the riders were complaining about their legs. I think that for the sake of us and our legs we started off at a fairly relaxed pace. In part we were subdued because of the weather as well. It wasn’t rainy (or not a lot anyway) but it was very windy and the the first mountain being a category one was going to be tough, so there were no attacks until after the 11th or 12th kilometer.

Waiting for the start. © Unipublic


Early break. © Unipublic

About two kilometers from the start of the climb two riders broke off ahead with no response. It wasn’t until we began climbing that we started racing hard, and we climbed the mountain at a very fast pace with lots of attacks off the front.

After the climbs we had a strong side wind which is very stressful for the peloton because it can easily break up and riders, or large groups, can get dropped which happened on numerous occasions today. When the peloton regrouped we were all sort of just waiting… waiting for either the sprinters’ teams, Banesto, Postal or someone to take over at the front, but we were all thinking the same thing and nothing happened, and we never caught the escape group. This, which all you cycling fiends know, is not a common occurence. Normally we work like clockwork, timing ourselves perfectly so we catch them just before the line. It was good luck for the those who were in the group, and maybe that is the reason that we so foolishly try to stay out in front, giving it 110%, sometimes.

The final escapees. © Unipublic

All of us certainly suffered today. In Spanish we say "Parece que las pirañas nos mordian las piernas,"  which roughly translated means that it was as if we had piranhas biting our legs, causing us excruciating pain. This is what happens after a day racing in the rain. At least the day is over and my dirty clothes didn’t get that much more stained; however they will be demoted from race status to training status.

Tomorrow I will change to a 55 ring as we will have a tailwind and will finish quite quickly.

Bingen Fernandez Bustinza - Cofidis
Yellow Jersey Tours

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