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Magnus Opus: Rain, crashes and I’m feeling good

I think I was in my element today. I sure do feel a lot better than I have these past few days of the Tour de France and there’s nothing like a team time trial to get a big motor like me feeling back in sorts. No, it isn’t a complete turnaround. I’m clearly not in top form, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Team time trials are really what the early part of my racing career was all about. Being taller and stronger on the flats I offer up a pretty good draft, eh? When you see teams like CSC and Phonak running into the troubles they had today, you really begin to see how

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By Magnus Bäckstedt, Alessio-Bianchi professional cycling team

Pulling the train: Bäckstedt at work

Photo: AFP

I think I was in my element today.

I sure do feel a lot better than I have these past few days of the Tour de France and there’s nothing like a team time trial to get a big motor like me feeling back in sorts. No, it isn’t a complete turnaround. I’m clearly not in top form, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Team time trials are really what the early part of my racing career was all about. Being taller and stronger on the flats I offer up a pretty good draft, eh?

When you see teams like CSC and Phonak running into the troubles they had today, you really begin to see how eventful a day it was. The rain really does complicate matters. I had a major wheelspin just at the start and almost went down on the wet road.

Still, we got a really good start to things and even set the top mark at the time checks for a while, but then we had two of our guys that crashed on a slick turn – the same one, it turns out, where CSC lost three guys. We came into a the turn and Martin Hvastija and Fabio Baldato cooked it a little too fast and hit the ground. It’s something that you have to be prepared for in a team time trial, especially on a day when it’s raining like that.

That crash would have been okay, but we had a complete screw up in communication after that. The seven of us slowed down and waited for the two fellas to catch back on. And we waited… and waited. We waited around for quite a while – probably a minute, but it seemed like an eternity – and then all of a sudden the sport director yells “Go! Go! Go!” even though we didn’t have our guys back.

So the net result is that we paid the cost of waiting around and then didn’t get the benefit of waiting. It would have made sense to either wait completely or to go right away… we didn’t do either.

That was a lack of communication, or better yet, a failure to make the decision quickly. Fortunately, when I punctured with 15 kilometers to go, they made the decision to go and I rode into the finish on my own.

Still, I have quite a positive frame of mind today. I felt heaps better than I did even yesterday. This really has changed my attitude here. It’s hard to approach the Tour with enthusiasm feeling the way I had been. This is a big step up for me.

So right now, I can take things day by day. I hope that tomorrow, when I get on the road, I have the legs to do something. I won’t get ahead of myself here and I am not feeling 100 percent, but this marks a big improvement for me.

Wish us luck and well talk tomorrow.