Objetivo: Llegar. Object: To Finish.
Today we felt blessed that the attacks did not begin at the start line.
Instead they began at 700m. What a welcome change! It started off the same this
afternoon with a fast pace and lots of attacks until the first successful
attack. The US Postal Team took position at the pelotonís head and began work.
The speed hovered just above everyoneís comfort zone and to make things worse
there was a sidewind. Postal took the hint and everyone was forced to the left
in single file. Postalís Josť Luis Rubiera, whom we just call "Chechu," was
ahead of Cuesta and I and we yelled up to him, "Hey Chechu, tell those guys in
the front to go to the right side of the road for a change." So he did. Chechu
got on his radio and told the Postal crew to ride on the right - which they did!
This helped everyone a lot as we were able to create a better draft. Instead of
a long line we formed a happy blob.
After we passed through the town of Jaťn there was the smell of good and bad
things in the air. Jaťn is in a region famous for its olive oil and the smell of
it filled the air. We could also smell that the race was going to change from
here on out and would meet our fortune. This is where the serious race began and
at what incredible speed. The peloton was torn into five groups immediately.
There were many tired riders today - me being one of them. When I arrived at
the finish I put on a few extra layers and desended back down the same mountain
to the Cofidis bus. On the way down I passed many other riders still on the
climb. The suffering that showed on many riders faces today was hard to see.
When you are riding well you may suffer but you can still stay in the front
pack. Nozalís suffering can not be compared to the suffering that other riders
who are suffering just to finish the stage, just to keep from giving up. When
you are suffering like this the stages seem to be endless.
The grupetto is where you make friends however, and everyone helps each other
out. It is not uncommon for riders to help push a cohort in need, or give them
water, food and encouragment. You can not imagine how difficult it is sometimes
for many riders, even when they are in the grupetto, to make it to the finish.
The grupetto may come in at 20, 30 or 40 minutes behind but there are usually
many riders who have just barely held on. On bad days some riders just hope to
make it within the time control to the finish, just so they will be one
more stage closer to the tourís finish in Madrid.
Bingen Fernandez Bustinza
Yellow Jersey Tours
Bingen Fernandez Bustinza today. © Unipublic