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Magnus Opus: Back in the saddle again

Not too bad. I did a pretty normal prologue time trial today. I wasn’t all that lucky with the wind and the weather. If you look at the results, it looks like the guys who went off early turned in better times than even some of the big specialists at the end. The guys going off early had a pretty nice tailwind going out, at least to the turnaround, and then we got off after things shifted a bit and it felt like it was either a headwind or a crosswind. I doubt I got 200 meters of tailwind throughout. Still, I have no complaints. It was a reasonable ride and six kilometers doesn’t exactly

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By Magnus Bäckstedt, Alessio-Bianchi professional cycling team

Not too bad.

I did a pretty normal prologue time trial today. I wasn’t all that lucky with the wind and the weather. If you look at the results, it looks like the guys who went off early turned in better times than even some of the big specialists at the end.

The guys going off early had a pretty nice tailwind going out, at least to the turnaround, and then we got off after things shifted a bit and it felt like it was either a headwind or a crosswind. I doubt I got 200 meters of tailwind throughout.

Still, I have no complaints. It was a reasonable ride and six kilometers doesn’t exactly create a huge gap, now, does it? I finished in 62nd, at 28 seconds. All told, I’m pretty happy with it.

Poor Matt
For a lot of us who know him, the big news of the day is also the worst news of the day. I’m sure you already know that poor Matt White crashed this afternoon before the start and is out of the Tour. His team managed to get Peter Farazijn down here to replace him in time for the start, but Matt is out with a broken collarbone.

He’s been wanting to ride in the Tour ever since he became a pro, and here he was, only to have it ripped away from him a couple of hours before the start. I feel so sorry for him, because I know how much he wanted this. It’s one of those things that’s just not supposed to happen.

Back to work
It’s been a tough time since the Giro for me. I had a little bit of a time of it trying to train. I’ve had some problems with my back. I hadn’t really been able to train at 100 percent until Route du Sud a couple of weeks ago. I sort of forced my way through that and then went up to Sweden to get my back looked at by a couple of specialists. They managed to get my back straight and sort my muscles out. I was completely twisted on my bike. It was mayhem. This line of work does take a bit out of a guy sometimes.

Part of the problem, it turns out, was that the arches on my feet would begin to collapse after an hour or two on the bike. One of the recommendations was to have some insoles – orthotics some call them – made for my cycling shoes. That helped, but it took a while to straighten everything else out.

Anyway, I feel pretty good right now and felt much better on the bike last week at nationals in Sweden. I was getting all the power that I had into the pedals and I felt good. I feel good this week and even though I have fewer kilometers than I’d like, I think I can ride into the Tour and be up to speed quite soon.

The guys
Alessio-Bianchi has a good group here at the Tour. We have three GC contenders. Pietro Caucchioli, Claus Michael Moller – who are probably going to be our two main guys – and we have Andrea Noe’ riding here, too. I don’t know what Andrea’s form is like right now. Caucchioli is riding really well right now. He looks good.

We also have Marcus Ljungqvist – my roommate from the Giro. Scotty Sunderland is back in the Tour again. He’s dead keen on riding again. We have the Slovenian guy, Martin Hvastija, who is always, always, always riding strong, no matter what. He’s always up there and always giving it large every single day. He’s strong in the flats. He can do lead-outs. He can do pretty much everything. He’s a good guy to have on the team.

We have a good crew, topped off with a guy like Fabio Baldato, who has lots of experience. It’s a good group and we’re all having a good laugh when we’re together.

My personal goal is to try and get a stage win here. We’ll see how it goes these next few days. We are up in my territory and the wind, it seems, has been very strong, which should suit me. I will do what I can to get into a good break. If I manage that, who knows what can happen then? Over these next couple of days – up until the team time trial – I will definitely give it everything I got and try to some kind of damage in the race.

Wish us luck. It’s going to be a long three weeks.