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By Christian Vande Velde, CSC professional cycling team
I spent the first week of the race hoping for cool weather. Then, today we received a small dose, and I decided that the heat isn’t that bad.
It rained for 15 minutes and I almost froze. Thoughts of, “Be careful what you wish for,” instantly popped into my head. It did dry up and then the brutal headwind appeared. I almost felt bad for the Liberty team, as they slogged their way into the wind, as Jakob and I stayed at the back with our pulses around 50 … well, not really.
The tension rose towards the end and everyone completely lost their minds and went as if the Vuelta would be won or lost in the last 20km of the stage. Of course if everyone else is going crazy then you have to sign up for the loony bin, too. Before you knew it, we were flying down a little road risking life and limb to be at the front.
“Why?” you ask. Because … because … because what if? That’s why! What if there is a crash? What if there is a crosswind? What if there is a flash flood!?!?!? Hey, it could happen.
All of this leads to the insanity of the finish. I made it up and over the last hill and moved up to the top 10 for the descent only to crash out on one of the corners. Nothing more than sliding out and losing a little skin, but it always sucks to crash.
I was up and on the bike before too many people passed me. It was all pretty surreal, actually. Some riders are starting to show cracks in the armor; others are showing how strong they really are.
Roberto is flying and yesterday wasn’t even a good test for him. He instilled a small amount of fear in all of us.
We are in Catalunya now and back into civilization. It’s a shock after the desolation we came through these past few days. I really don’t know which I prefer yet. Tomorrow I get to see my wife and dad at the finish and enjoy two nights on the beach in Lloret de Mar. That I do know I like.
Life isn’t so bad, even though my right side is kinda hamburger and we have 2000k to go. All downhill, right?