Marcel's Pain and Suffering Column
Stage 10, Vic - Andorra Estacio de Pal, 200 kms:OUF! lucky it's over. The 1st stage after the Rest Day always sucks!! We went flat out over the first climb and as everone knew that we HAD to go OVER it.
There was no grupetto...one by one everybody fighting for himself...after we luckily formed a little group of 9 and rode flat out for 30k and caught back on. There was no worries then cause at the first of the last 3 climbs there was a big grupetto and we brought ourselves home 31min. down....time cut was 44. Tomorrow will be similar...so no more typing...but into the bed and sleep!!
Stage 11, Andorra - Cerler, 186 kms:Today Lance gave me shit: "your writings were a bit short today...were you pretty stuffed or what?" Today I feel like typing half as much as yesterday... 10 guys did not make the cut...one of us (D. Rous) and Henk (vogels) was in this group as well. So I'll be the last rider now keeping up the Aussie-slang in the bunch...not even half the fun without Henk!!
I was suffering ALL day like a dog! (do dogs suffer????) up-down-forward-backward
(see stage 4). And to give you a picture: Only twice a year would I have a
little nap after the stage. Today I slept a full
hour before the massage!! good reason for not writing more or what!!
PS I forgot to mention that at 7:00a.m the bloodsucking UCI vampires came...normal wakeup time was 8:45...the short night did not help recovery at all. And no surprise.....we were all UNDER the limit of 50% hct.
Stage 12, Benasque - Canfranc, 166 kms:NICE!!! Today was finally a perfect day for my needs. Downhill start, flat out over the first hill but with a big group of 60. Then back to the bunch where we found out there were 12 guys up the road. Easy the last climb and then I could wheel suck myself to the finish without big efforts. Not a real day off but still way better then the last 2 days. Today all the guys saying " ah, look at Bugno he's done 2 years too much already..." Got the right answer from the "old" champ...HE WON and came in solo. Good on him!!
We had Uriarte in the front group and he came unlucky 4th...but at least we did not have to ride at all today :-) During my massage tonight, I could feel that the legs were way better after today than in the last couple of days, and I had morale to do something funny...after finishing 3/4 of a "yop" drinking yogurt, (strawberry flavour) I poured the rest of it in the masseurs massage cream which is as pink as the yoghurt. There were 4 of us in the room and he was the only one who did not know. The look on his face when he grabbed some cold, sticky "yop" instead of his cream was worthy of being the "laugh of the day"
Tomorrow is what Spanish people call "pestoso". A long hill from the start and
then 3 laps with a serious climb, but not super hard, so there will be no grupetto
again, just everyone trying to make it over as long as possible...we'll see.
At least the weather forecast is still great and we had nothing but sun so
far...poor guys up in the north racing in Belgium, Holland and stuff.
I'd rather suffer with a tan
Stage 13, Sabiñanigo - Sabiñanigo, 208.5 kms:Friday - the 13th stage....but nothing BAD happened.
After I paced up the 15km long cat 2 at the start (lucky they let me!) the biggest worry of the day was passed. Thanks climbers for not attacking from the gun!!
Today's grupetto was formed downhill after being in the back after the first time over the Cat 2 which we had to do 3 times. There were crosswinds and attacks (the downhill skills of the Colombians did the rest) so we got dropped. Catching more guys later we were over 50 guys just taking a day off. Well not really we still did 210km today but without the flat out final which usually brings tons of lactic acid in your legs.
Today was Lance's birthday too, so happy birthday champ!!
I'm proud to be able to say that I was part of his 21st birthday party, and it was an honorable one too. He had just won the KOM jersey of the Tour de l'Avenir, I won the green jersey and I remember the guest list very well. There was him and me, oche (then Motorola team director), Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and some Mexican guy called Tek Illah....that was 6 years ago...time flies if you have fun!
Tomorrow could me nice (sprint), alright (breakaway to be chased down) or suck (attacks from the start up the Cat 2 after 25km and then crosswind all day). Just in case well have tailwind I'll have 54/11 tomorrow. wish me luck.
Stage 14, Biescas - Zaragoza, 145.5 kms:Short but fast...51.137avg with headwind at the start and a 7km climb. Yeah, finally I won!!! Fastest stage winner in history, but that does not really matter.
Having to wait 2 weeks before you finally make it on the podium...oh man I loved it!! I spent heaps of time on the phone with congratulations, interviews and stuff so today thats all you get. Sorry!
Before I forget, Lance created "the pestoso of the day" competition. the first winner of the day is unluckily one of my teammates...."because he thinks his shits don't stink" so 3 points to j.r.uriarte for today. from my side I have to say 10 points for him and all the other festinas who worked their butts off 4 me..THANX GUYS
Stage 15, Zaragoza - Soria, 178.8 kms:Why? Why do all saturday nights suck? After the disco made me loose my sleep in Mallorca we've been staying in a really nice hotel this time....with a wedding (250 guests) going on. The party started at 23.30 when I fell asleep at 2.00 (yes two!) a.m it was still going. The worst bit was that at 4.30 about 50 drunk guys were yelling "Escartin, Escartin, Escartin" for about another hour. He was in the same hotel as well but hadn't heard anything, cause KELME was on the 6th floor....we are on the first!! So getting up was the hardest. 6hrs. of sleep after usually having 10-11, worse than jetlag.
Opening the papers this morning was a big satisfaction though. My smiling face all over the place and finding out that I've been beating the record for the fastest stage in a big tour EVER, beating Bruyneel (1993 Tour), Jalabert (1996 Vuelta), and Cipollini (1997 Giro). Winning Rules!!!!
At the start it seemed they wanted to beat this 51.437 from yesterday, we had an avg. of 55 after 30km, but then the big slowdown and we took it easy for an hour or so. Then attacking started again and two got away with zinchenkov winning his 2nd stage in 3 days...he lives in Soria where the stage finished, so kind of a home town boy win today.
I was stuffed (see above) and came in late with only 5 guys including the whole Credit Agricole team. They have only Vasseur who is still in the race.
The big worry is going be be tomorrow. The time cut will be round 27.00 but there are 3 serious climbs and in the last one most of us will use 39/25. If we have a grupetto of 25-30 riders it should be right even if we are a bit late...but the bigger the better (50 would be perfect!!) as I remember they sent us home in the Ggiro with 35 in the group and 10 stopping that day.... ...with David Bramati (experienced grupettista as well) we wanna make a stand in the village in the morning where everyone can come past and get his FREE grupetto ticked....
I'll have heaps of sleep tonight and hope to have some good news for all of you tomorrow!!
Stage 16, Soria - Laguna Negra de Neila, 143.7 kms:Still There!!!
Sometimes the days that you are the most scared of turn out to be easier than you thought...thought...but today was even better. Banesto set the pace up the first Cat 2 and when Kelme tried to blow up the race on the following Cat 1 a big grupetto formed - no worries. We were 30 guys and after taking the downhill flat out and riding balls out in the flat we came to the bottom of the last one only 2-3 minutes behind the front group.
And the jury decided to make the time cut 3% more than usual so there was no problem at all...I just through it on 39/25 and rode up the "lagunas" at 140 heart rate.
After the stage we had an hour in the bus to go to the hotel. We always come here for the "Vuelta Burgos" so it's like a family place where you get a bit of chorizo and morcilla if you want it. For brekky manana we'll have "queso de burgos" and if you dunno what I'm talking about you really missed out on some really good local food!!!
Bummer though - they announced rain for the next 2 days, but at least it's flat. Today I got the pick of the pestoso of the day: 5 points to Mariano Piccoli for riding way to fast in the grupetto. He's the only one who will not be invited next Friday when we'll have to "apretar nos los cochones para entrar en el fuere de control." (You'll all understand Spanish by the time I've finished this diary!!). This morning in the "village" I went to get a shave from the girls of "wilkinson" (another Vuelta sponsor).
I sat in this really comfy chair and got the shaving cream massaged in and the a really good shave...SHAVE I SAID!! harry (from oakley) was there to videotape it for the office, but I reckon this does not really reflect the life of a pro cyclist...talking real life, gonna go to the masssage now.
Stage 17, Burgos - Léon, 188.5 kms:What can I say??? I won again after the whole Festina team rode their balls off for me. First they brought back the one man break and then I had the perfect lead out until 300 to go...really nice to finish the team work off by taking the stage.
As it was the other day my phone would not stop ringing and I hardly had any spare time because the stage finished late and it took me an hour to go through the whole thing...podium, tv, radio, press conference and drug testing. So typing this it's already Wednesday morning, 7:30a.m.
Alex is still asleep and I sit in the bathroom with my computer on my knees...so don't be dissapointed that this is all you get because it's not really comfy!!
One funny thing tough: on the podium I got the photographers alright. when they gave me this big bottle of champagne to spray around with everyone started to moove back...and I sprayed a bit...like 1/3...when they thought it was over they all came back towards the podium and they all got their load of bubbles...
Stage 18, Leon - Salamanca, 223 kms:How about this:
There is a sprinter 9 out of 10 people put top favourite 4 the stage win, and in a crosswind section after a hill where he dropped back a little he gets blown out of the bunch with some colombians and a few others....doesn't this suck??
That much about my day!
It was 60km to go too, and there were all this spanish radio reporters waiting at the finish, asking questions I did not want answer....
Actually I said this morning I think there will be a breakaway going away today, but could l know it's gonna be a break of 100 riders and l would not be in it???
Let's change the subject:
Today we took off like hell to slow down big time until...ah, yeah this crosswind section..........let's change the subject I said, NO? So it was really slow for a while and we even stopped at the km100 buffet a Vuelta sponsor puts on for the guys in the publicity caravans...this did not compare the buffets we had in the Giro. Here was nothing but bratwurst and coke.
It was funny to find out today that Lance drives a German car (he's American!) and I drive an American car (and I'm German!) ...but if you look at it closely it's not even half as funny as I thought.
Actually today I feel like drinking 5 beers and having a huge pizza. I'm just sick of pasta, rice, potatoes and all that stuff.
Let's see what I get for dinner tonight.
Stage 19, Avila - Segovia, 165 kms:Easy, hard, easy....
This is what happened today, after taking off easy it went really fast before the last climb, and then after the grupetto it became easy again. It seems like everyone is really nervous before tomorrow because if there are attacks on the first climb there could be 25 riders going home...and this with only 2 days to got Madrid. Today the award of the "pestoso de la Vuelta espana 1998" went finally to Mariano Piccoli. He attacked just as there was a big crash and took off...so congrats you Italian bastard!!
And sorry...I don't feel like typing more...just wish me luck for tomorrow!!
Stage 20, Segovia - Alto de Navacerrada, 206 kms:I'm still here!!!!! Sorry for being a day late...but yesterday there was no way I could do anything but lie on my bed and recover. For all those who have seen it on TV you know why and for all those who have been in the race they even know better. I'm 107th now with 108 left in the race... this means that 90 have dropped out since we started!!! At least Festina tried to win. We attacked the shit out of everybody and at one moment Alex was more then a minute ahead of the yellow. But then Banesto did all the work for Olano and, ... well we lost....but this is sport. Better to have tried to win an fail that to wait and be content to finish 5th or so.
My big satisfaction was to go to Golden Arches restaurant (McDonalds!) and having something different from pasta, rice, pasta, rice and pasta and rice.....I had 2 big mac's and a quarterpounder, fries and sundae....what a compensation for riding 6 hours over 6 hard climb with rain, cold and storms all day.
Stage 22, Madrid - MadridFirst, sorry again for being late but when you read the rest you'll understand.
No boot...no startup disk....no writing right?
So I am already home and typing this - but I am nervous ... let me tell you why. For us it was great to see Alex win the time trial...what a suspense, but 1sec. is enough. But for me, everything that I could do wrong in the last Sprint in Madrid, I did! too early and stuff, wrong side but anyway......then rushed for the plane and came home and this is what I'm nervous about. From the airport we went home and to bed but no sleep was possible. In the car, Heike got the first contractions and went to hospital. It looks like the baby due for next week will be a bit early. We went back home and typing this all looks good and we'll be off to hospital again in the next hour.
wish me luck with this sprint
PS I'll drop a note of the result of this final 98 sprint a.s.a.p.