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La Vuelta de Barry: Done with the Pyrénées

With two more days in the Pyrénées under our belts, we are now on our waytoward the coast and Barcelona on Monday night.On Saturday, we once again started racing fast out of the blocks - notan ideal way to start a stage that has four climbs over 10 km long (see"ONCE'sRodriguez takes stage 8 at Vuelta").  Again, everybody onthe team, save Roberto and Triki, were to follow the attacks and keep therace under control so that they would have a good situation as we nearedthe finish.Forty kilometers into the race we began the big climbs. One after another,they hit us with little recovery in

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By Michael Barry, U.S. Postal Service professional cycling team

With two more days in the Pyrénées under our belts, we are now on our waytoward the coast and Barcelona on Monday night.On Saturday, we once again started racing fast out of the blocks – notan ideal way to start a stage that has four climbs over 10 km long (see”ONCE’sRodriguez takes stage 8 at Vuelta“).  Again, everybody onthe team, save Roberto and Triki, were to follow the attacks and keep therace under control so that they would have a good situation as we nearedthe finish.Forty kilometers into the race we began the big climbs. One after another,they hit us with little recovery in between. By the third climb of theday, the Portillon, the peloton was destroyed.A group of about nine riders was off the front, followed by the chasegroup and then the first group of stragglers at 20 minutes. At this point,the groupetto was really the main field with at least 100 riderspresent. When the groupetto is this large you know riders are tired. Notmany people were talking in the groupetto and nobody was looking like theywere getting any pleasure at all out of the ride.Roberto’s stomping grounds
The Pyrénées were supposed to be Roberto’s stomping grounds. The courseshowever didn’t really play in his favor, as the finishing ascents werenever very steep and we were also faced with strong headwinds.Roberto excels when it is steep and he can make his largest gaps tohis rivals on such terrain. With a headwind, it is easier for riders tosit in the draft and recover with the speed also being slower.So, we are leaving the hills on Monday and Roberto is still a good chunkof time down on Nozal. Hopefully, he’ll be able to make the differencewhen we hit the hills in the south of Spain next week. We were all waitingfor Nozal to crack, but he has not shown much sign of weakness and he isproving to be the revelation of this race.Chechu has predicted that the rider who wins the Vuelta will be theone that doesn’t crack. Each day, we lose another contender to the groupetto-OnSunday it was Sastre and Belli, and on Saturday, Klaus Möller.The stages have been finishing late in the evening and by the time wedescend down the mountains to our hotels it is dusk. Autumn has hit Spainand it has been cool and fresh on the climbs. These are ideal conditions.On Sunday night we are staying in Andorra and then on Monday we willroll near our home in Girona and towards Sabadell. All the stages of thispast week are starting to blend together and it is hard to remember thetowns we were in and what happened where.Good days and bad days
In a stage race everybody has good and bad days. On Saturday, I finishedempty and after Sunday’s stage, I feel revived. Everybody on the team isgetting skinnier by the day now and we are also all eating more than ever.Once the metabolism gets rolling it is hard to keep up with it. In themountains your body aches in different places than on the flats. Many ofus have tight necks; which I think is a result of descending so much. Wealso have sore feet from pressing on the pedals when climbing.On Monday we’ll get to work out all the kinks as we’ll be back on flatterroads again. The rest day is something we are all looking forward to aswell.While climbing on Sunday, George looked over at me and said, “Maybewe can get Willy to make us some Pizza tomorrow night.”I can hardly wait.


For more on Michael and his wife Dede Demet Barry visit www.michaelbarry.ca/