Coke & Boxing
Today there was a war between the sprinter’s teams. The
attacking started interesting enough; it was not good enough to have one Cofidis
rider in a breakaway, not a Fassa or Rabobank rider. Why? Well, it was
expected to be a sprint finish, a stage for the sprinters, so if one of the
sprinter’s teams had a rider out front in a breakaway there were not going to be
doing any work at the front pulling. Finally an acceptable group of 7 broke
away (a group without a Rabobank, Fassa or Cofidis rider) and they gained 4
minutes on the peloton, just enough time before our three teams started to work
at the front. We were riding hard, even when we hit the hills.
It was a hot
day and no one was talking. Petacchi was riding next to me as we started the
climb and he was suffering miserably and having a hard time holding on, but you
would never guess whose team was setting this unbearable pace - it was his!
Finally I heard one of the Fassa boys yell into his mic, “Figa, Piano!” and they
lowered the tempo a bit. I was drenched in sweat from the heat (if you
remember, I loathe the heat and have a really hard time riding when it is hot)
and the descent had never felt so good. The feed zone was just ahead and I was
looking forward to some cold water. I took my bag and found a Coke. I was
thrilled. This is where my story begins.
Just as I was about to open up the can of Coke we started
to move fast again, so I stuck the can of Coke in my back pocket thinking that I
could drink it later. But then we started another fast descent and I figured
that I would have to wait until the bottom to drink it, at the end of
the descent. So at the bottom I pulled out the can and opened it up, but just
as I started to open it we hit a sharp curve and everyone started to brake.
Dang! I tried to get it back into my pocket but I couldn’t find the pocket, and
the curve was approaching quickly. What was I going to do? Toss the Coke to
the side of the road so I could use both hands to brake? No way! I really
wanted that Coke. But I was at my limit and I still couldn’t get the can into
my pocket, so I did what any sensible rider would do to save their can of
Coke - stick it in their bib, of course. Listo! It worked and I was able to
brake just in time.
A minute later Igor Astarloa rode up next to me laughing.
I asked Igor what he was laughing about and he said that he had been behind
watching me do everything to save my can of Coke and that is why he was
laughing. He was right though, I really wanted that soda. It was worth saving
too, as it was very refreshing.
Cofidis and Fassa started to pull 5kms from the finish line
when something strange happened. Maybe you have already heard about Perez and
Hunter already, and that they were fighting after the stage? Since we were at
the front pulling we didn’t see what happened. I guess it happened while we
were pulling for O’Grady, Petacchi, Luis and a few others - which was all normal.
Hunter had come up though and pulled on Luis’ jersey so that he was held back a
bit and freeing up his spot. Luis did not appreciate the gesture and pulled on
Hunter’s shoulder pulling him back. Hunter started yelling and Luis pulled
forward behind us. After the stage finish Hunter hunted down Luis and started
to pick a fight. Luis defended himself and within seconds the police arrived to
break up the fight.
Later, the race organization fined each of them 500 Swiss Francs. There are a
lot of things you can do to keep you good spot, but pulling other people’s
jerseys is not one of them. I guess we will see what happens tomorrow between
No Stage 7 Journal.
Stage 8: ITT
Weather forecast for the ITT
Weather: There will be partially
cloudy or mostly clear sky in the whole journey with alternating sunny and
cloudy sky spells again in this first long time trial.
Winds: Wind will blow from light
in all stage. Wind will blow from variable directions to the cyclists, because
the rotating journey. Wind will be from both sides at general. It will blow
Easterly wind, blowing from the sea always.
Temperatures: There will be hot
sensation in the whole day with temperatures around 29C and 30C for all the
This is what the Vuelta
organization gave us this morning. The last page of the rider classification
packet is always the weather forecast for the day’s stage. I usually read the
forecast in Spanish, but Stuart was reading it in English and started to laugh.
I read it and couldn’t help but to laugh with him. After reading it in Spanish
it was hard to believe that this was a translation. The only thing missing was
a bout of rain.
Hot sensations? What the hell
was that? It wasn’t really clear. Where would I find these hot sensations?
I thought I would warm up on the
trainer for a bit in hopes of experiencing this hot sensation. Would
this be where I would experience the hot sensation that the Vuelta
organization was referring to? I had only been warming up for five minutes and
did not experience anything out of the ordinary.
Later, after sitting in the shade
for awhile, I went back into the sun but didn’t seem to think that it was a
hot sensation. Hmmm, I wonder if I could find out where it was.
The ITT started and I got into a
good rhythm so that I would not lose too much time, but so that I could also
recover a bit for tomorrow. After 15 kilometers I was still expecting to ride
into these hot sensations. Where would they come from?
It wasn’t coming from the right,
or the left. Hmm, maybe the Vuelta wasn’t going to give us riders hot
sensations today. Around the 20km mark the rider behind me passed by. I kept
to my rhythm, but then a second rider passed by. I, of course, started to wonder
if I was going really slow. I had only covered 20kms of the 41km course and
already 2 riders had passed me. I figured that I ought to pick up the tempo
just a tad so I could at least keep the same speed as the rider ahead. That is
when I experienced my first hot sensation.
I had to slow down a bit
again in order to cool off a bit. As I started climbing the hill I realized
that this was not just an ordinary hill - there were hot sensation pockets
on this hill that I kept finding. I had certainly found a few of these hot
sensations. About 5kms from the finish I came across my last hot sensation.
This time the hot sensation came from behind, in the form of yet another
rider who spoke to me as he passed. “Ok, two is acceptable, but not three, Bingen.” That was certainly the longest hot sensation that I experienced
and it was pretty hot.
I guess the forecast was not too
far off, as there really were hot sensations in the whole day. I am sure
that tomorrow’s forecast will also have high chances of hot sensations.
I will have to make sure to read the paper just in case.
Yellow Jersey Tours