By Christian Vande Velde, CSC Professional Cycling Team
The rest day and come and gone. I am not sure just how rested I feel and now Stage 10 is on the horizon.
I have mixed feelings about rest days. First off, I am not all that sure that they help you that much. In a way, I’d like it if we just got on with it and went home one day earlier. On the other hand, you do need a little respite from the stress of bike racing, just to relax. In that sense, the rest day is “rest” in the psychological sense than it is the physical. Still, I did sleep for two hours this afternoon, so I guess I was a bit tired, after all.
One thing about the rest day is that its quality relies heavily on the hotel. Aside from the fact that we ride for maybe one or two hours to keep our legs fresh, the entire rest day revolves around the hotel, which involves itself in every aspect of life: All the meals, entertainment and, of course, sleep.
We found ourselves at the lower end of the spectrum when we arrived at this hotel. The first thing we spotted when we got here was a very, very green swimming pool, which didn’t look too inviting. There was also a sign at the main desk reminding guests that there was a 10-euro surcharge for air-conditioning.
It was fun watching the waiters trying to deal with an invasion of nine very hungry guys, who sit down and order copious amounts of food. Tonight, we just said “screw it” and got our food from the team truck.
I need to explain a little bit about the truck. The truck not only contains the usual assortment of bikes and equipment, but also a washing machine, mechanics’ station and, most importantly, a “kitchen.” There are two refrigerators and shelves and shelves of food. That includes everything from nutrition bars, protein powders, nutrition bars to ham and cheese, cakes and Mars bars…
One could use the kitchen as a fallout shelter for months and never come up for air, although at the end, you’d probably emerge hypoglycemic and full of very, very bad gas.
Yesterday (Monday) was the shortest stage of the Giro, and it turned out to be one of the hardest so far. Attacks from the gun and then a really hard tempo from Fassa, which – as you might guess – has some serious weight on its shoulders. Ale’ Jet, as he is known here Italy, came through and took some of the weight off of his – and the team’s – shoulders. (Fassa director Giancarlo) Ferretti would have gone crazy, had he not had at least one victory in the bag going into the rest day.
Looking ahead, the Giro is now heading north, just as the weather seems to be heading south. There is rain in the forecast for tomorrow, and with a circuit at the finish, things could get a little ugly.
Wish us luck.