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Bingen Fernández: Vuelta Journals Stage 6 and 8
By Staff
Date: 9/13/2004
Bingen Fernández: Vuelta Journals Stage 6 and 8

Stage 6
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 these two.

No Stage 7 Journal.

Stage 8: ITT
Hot Sensations

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 cyclists.

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.

Bingen Fernández
Yellow Jersey Tours

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