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Bingen Fernandez Vuelta Stage 7: A Sesenta Macho.
By Staff
Date: 9/12/2003
Bingen Fernandez Vuelta Stage 7: A Sesenta Macho.

I was excited for today’s stage - this would be my stage to lead a couple of attacks. I discovered though that I was not the only one who had this plan. Everyone was attacking. At one point I was in an attack group but we couldn’t gain much lead on the pack and were gobbled up again. There were a thousand attacks in the first 100 kilometers, making it very fast race.

At one point Alex Zuelle took a second to look down at his computer. "A sesenta macho," he said. Yes, we're cruising up the hill at 60kms an hour. Normally we never have time to look at our speed at such moments. Alex, being Swiss, speaks Spanish with a wonderful accent and I couldn’t help but to start laughing. The accent and those moments are worth a lot.

After the feed zone the group of nine with Leipheimer, Jiménez and Cabello were able to build a substantial lead on the peloton. Thank God! We finally slowed down to a normal velocity. Well, slow, relatively speaking, that is. We were riding at regular race speed, but without anyone attacking it was much easier.

At the beginning of the climb up the Alto del Portalet I decided to begin my work as a domestique. I headed back to the car for 8 bottles of water for the crew and just as my luck would have it, ONCE-Eroski decided to start doing some serious work at the front which strung out the peloton considerably, making my job much more difficult. I had to pass through the entire string of riders delivering water. Sometimes this is easier said than done; at times you cover two kilometers before you dispense all the water bottles to the riders.

Bingen Fernandez. Courtesy Cofidis.

It was certainly a pain to reach the front with ONCE-Eroski pulling the peloton up the mountain fast. On the Col d'Aubisque things became even more serious as ONCE-Eroski set out to break up the peloton. In the first few kilometers I was able to make my way to the front of the group again so I would be able to stay in a good group after the damage was done, but getting to the front took a lot out of me and ONCE-Eroski was ruthless. There was a fierce attack just as I reached the front bunch giving me no time to recover, and I just could not hold on.

One by one many of us were dropped off the bunch. At this point I just dealt with my luck and decided to take it easy in hopes to save myself something for tomorrow. This is what happens if you find yourself at the back of the peloton at the wrong time. It takes a lot of energy to pass by 180 riders to reach the front. Ideally, everyone wants to be in the front at the start of the climb so they don’t have to do what I did. But, as you know, logically not everyone can be at the head of the peloton.

Luis Perez of Cofidis on Stage 7. © Unipublic [Click for larger image]

Tonight we are staying in Lourdes - the town of miracles. I think that we all need a miracle or two to recover from today’s stage. I think that in hindsight ONCE-Eroski hurt themselves by working at the front for so long. They wore out many on their team’s riders, including their leaders. On the Col d'Aubisque there was no one else left to work and Nozal had to pull for Galdeano which shouldn’t have happened. It hurt Nozal today. ONCE-Eroski is strong but what they didn’t realize is that there are a lot of other very strong riders. We rode like motorcycles the entire day and many of us crossed the finish line absolutely exhausted. Tomorrow will be no different and we all know that.

Bingen Fernandez Bustinza
Yellow Jersey Tours

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