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Bingen Fernandez: Vuelta Stage 9 Diary
By Staff
Date: 9/14/2003
Bingen Fernandez: Vuelta Stage 9 Diary

Dedicado a los Atacadores del Grupetto.

Today began like normal and we started off fast. However, today being a mountain stage meant that there was a thick tension in the peloton. No one was talking, making eye contact, or even looking up the mountain to see how many kilometers were yet to come. Everyone just kept their eye on the wheel in front of them. Well, aside from the occasional look out of the corner of the eye searching for the finally marker indicating the last kilometer of the climb.

The riders waiting for the start...© Unipublic.

On Port de la Bonaigua there was an escape. Usually the peloton will let them gain some time and then pull them back at the opportune time. But today, not one team wanted to take any chances and we worked hard to pull them back. Today would not be an easy day to get in a lucky break.

It was a tough day with three very long climbs. We always suffer a lot in the mountains - the pace is always just beyond your level of comfort.

On the Port de la Bonaigua.  © Unipublic.

At the foot of Port d'Envalira the speed increased even more and there were plenty of attacks - this determined the leaders group and grupetto. This is where the real race begins. The race among the favorites. In this brief moment every rider determines his fate. Riders either push their limits to get off ahead or stay in the peloton. If you donít go, and stay in the peloton, your chances are gone. No one leads attacks from the grupetto; this is a sort of an unspoken rule and highly frowned upon.

In that crucial moment I chose to follow the attacks and join the first group. Later, I and several others realized that the first group was going a bit faster than we could handle and if we wanted to ride well tomorrow we would need to be a bit conservative. We slowed down and waited for the grupetto that was coming around the corner but we were surprised to see that it wasnít the grupetto - it was a group of riders that had attacked from the grupetto - a no no. We finished within this group of riders (atacadores del grupetto).

Here is a word of advice from us professionals - if you ever end up in the grupetto, then swallow your bad luck and stay put. Like today, when things heat up at the start of the climb, there is only a brief window of opportunity and if you are going to make your move and follow or lead an attack then go, but after the grupetto is formed there is no more attacking. If you have energy to burn, then take the front position and help your fellow riders.

Bingen Fernandez Bustinza
Yellow Jersey Tours

© Unipublic.


© Unipublic.

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