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By Christian Vande Velde, CSC professional cycling team
Well, we tried to get another one, but this time it just didn’t work out.
We did a lot of work today and chasing that early break from like 30 kilometers or so and pulled the peloton all the way to the base of the Finistere. At least we got to that point… after that, I dunno.
The plan today was to do pretty much what we did on Thursday, when Ivan pretty much rode everyone off of his wheel. That and yesterday showed us all that Ivan was capable of doing it, it’s just that he didn’t really have it today. Frankly, after these last couple of days, it really, that shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise. He had two great days after being so sick last week. Sometimes, when you get sick, you come back really strong and then run out of gas again. It’s almost as if your reserves just aren’t that high after getting sick.
Once we brought Ivan to the base of the climb, I for one, was spent and drifted back into the grupetto… with that climb facing us. Eighteen kilometers and an average of more than nine percent. One final gift from the Giro. Thanks a lot.
Anyway, there was – from the sounds of it – a great race going on up ahead of us, but I have something of a confession to make. Truthfully, I really didn’t care. I know that sounds weird, but when you are slogging your way up the Finistere with the rest of the bunch. We’re riding up the climb, switchback after switchback after switchback and people are yelling at us, telling us what’s going on up the road and I couldn’t give two sh*ts about what was happening up there.
It reminded me of when I was 16 when Andy Hampsten won l’Alpe d’Huez. I was eating pizza with Frankie Andreu once and I was still really excited to hear about it and asked Frankie to tell me.
“You were there, weren’t you, Frankie?” I asked.
He said, “Yeah, I first heard that Andy had won when I still had like 19 switchbacks left to go. Some guy yelled out that my teammate had won the stage and all I could say was ‘who the hell cares?!?’”
Now I understand.
The climb was brutal. It wasn’t the dirt. I actually like that. We ride dirt roads like that back in Boulder all the time, going to Gross Reservoir and stuff like that. And with the way the weather was today, the surface was nice and hard. In fact, we were going the same speed on the dirt as we were on that new pavement on the lower part. Unfortunately for us, that speed was equally slow on both. The grade was tough. Your legs just get tight from moving at that slow of a cadence and sitting in an uncomfortable position. I timed it and the whole thing took us a little over an-hour-and-a-half.
Anyway, that was the worst of it. It’s pretty much over now. Tomorrow’s stage is another chance for Petacchi to try for another stage and maybe even the points jersey. For us, it’ll be a chance to rest and then go home… for the week, at least.
A little rest, hang out by the pool, a couple of barbeques and then I go to the Dauphine next weekend.
After that, who knows? I’m told I am on the “short list” for the Tour, but I have no idea when I find out… probably two days before the start like I did last year.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. We still do have that last stage to ride. Wish us luck and I’ll try to check in from the Dauphine now and then.