1.18.2012

TDU 1: apology and more

I made a mistake yesterday. You should never write about a race you didn't watch. The new season finally arrived but the first race of the year is Down Under: starts and finishes at night or early morning if you prefer. Anyway the early morning is a serious stressing stuff in a single mom's life, even when she – me – temporarly mustn't run – or ride - to work outside. The early morning is to sleep exhausted, to get up still sleepy, turn on the heating, open the windows and gently shake up my deeply sleeping son: "I go to the toilet first, prepare your clothes". The eraly morning is cold and that's old big home takes a while to get warm so we have an electric stuff in the toilet and use to get dressed there. While my still very sleepy son is in the toilet is puting his clothes over his pijama – once he went to school like that: I found out at 5 pm – I prepare our breakfast - tea and biscuits.- listening to the radio for the news. We have ten minutes to eat and drink, at 8am Liv passes the door   and I turn on my pc.
Yesterday I was eager to see some cycling finally. The race was just over, the first results were out and I couldn't believe: Martin Kohler 3th in the GC? WOW! What about Bennati? Just 9th? It didn't look that good, then I saw he was 5th at the sprint and that's quite different. Some hours later I read his comment on RSNT site: that downhill sprint didn't suit him at all. Also Hayden Roulston in his blog wrote: "benatti run 5th today… which was a pretty good effort with no real lead out train.. " (http://haydenroulston.co.nz/tdu-stage-1/ : read it! Cool stuff!).
But how did Martin Kohler manage to get 3th? At first I thought he was 3th at the sprint. Why not? He's a good sprinter and in I saw there had been a big crash so maybe best sprinters had got involved... The news told about a photofinish between Greipel and Petacchi, Martin could have won a group sprint behinde those two. Not so: he got the podium in his own way, breaking away! He gained so many seconds in the intermediate sprint he was 3th in GC even if he didn't sprint at all  at the finish because he was involved in the crash. Nothing serious for him but... well... he didn't beated The Sprinters at The Sprint. If there was a King of Break-away jersey, Martin Kohler deserved it in almost all races he started. He's a good, brave guy. Brave above all. I remember a day he was down because he had been schedulated for all the Classics, got sick just before a race, didn't know what to do, finally decided to start anyway but after 70 km he felt too bad and stoped. He could have say: I'm sick, will stay in bed. But I know what you are thinking now: cyclists are like that, aren't they? Brave and a bit mad.
The second news I saw yesterday - or probably the first one but I wanted the winner – was about the awful crash. I adsume you saw the video. Lotto-Belisol's Roelandts has a break in the 6th cervical vertebra but many riders fell and Montagutti (AG2R) was reported for a suspected collarbone, Guesdon (FDJ) for a possible broken hip. Fortunately Montaguti is fine (his gf says), Guesdon isn't but his conditions are less serious then expected. “As far as I saw they went too far right on that side of the road” Jens Voigt explained “They ran off the smooth surface of the road and got caught in the loose gravel or they hit a spectator. Maybe someone just hit a spectator and caused the chain reaction in the peloton with another ten or twelve riders going down. It was a fast crash and looked pretty painful too.  Nobody from our team was hurt. We delivered Bennati just in front of that and we were more on the left side so we were safe. I mean it was stressful and it was close, but we were safe.” Just after the race riders looked stressed and also a bit shocked. By the heat and by the crash:
Adam Hansen tweeted: " @tourdownunder riders are asking for barriers in the final kms for the safety of the riders please." How many kms? The discussion is on. In my opinion there wasn't a barriers problem there, as we can see by the video.
Sprint finish are always very stressful, especially when you are not a sprinter. In add yesterday the heat was simply  incredible: "today was the hottest day I’ve ever experienced on a bike" Roulston wrote  http://haydenroulston.co.nz/tdu-stage-1/  and Andy Fenn agrees: "So today I found out what riding in a Sauna would be like. I was right yesterday,  Stage 1 of Tour Down Under was a hot day, and the hottest race I've ever ridden. It was just a challenge keeping cool, and making sure we drank enough. The team always tries to be over prepared, but we even managed to run out of bidons, luckily only 5km from the feed, were we got a fresh cooler full for the car.
To make things worse it was a headwind for pretty much the whole day, so it meant we were out soaking up the heat for longer, with everybody's jerseys starting to look similar by the end, covered in salt. I even managed to catch the sun through my jersey, which was a first for me.
It did cool off towards the end, maybe just a bit closer to 30 degrees than 40, but it had obviously taken its toll on all of us. Even some of the Aussie guys who have been enjoying their summer over here said they weren't finding it easy in the heat. It's not normal with 10km to go for it not to be pretty full on like it was today." http://www.omegapharma-quickstep.com/en/news/show/andy-fenn-s-blog-sun-tan-under-the-jersey-definitely-a-scorcher/41
Alex Dowsett tweeted: "So yday was ok, avoided the crashes but unfortunately came down with a bit of heat/sun stroke and had a rough evening, all good today though"
It isn't easy to race in such a sauna and it was weird to read of it from our winter fridge.
When I finally managed to watch the highlights of the stage... I remembered why I love cycling so much! You can't avoid to feel for the guys in the break seeing their faces covered in sweat, you can't avoid to exult at Martin Kohler rising his fist on the intermediate sprint line, you can't avoid to thrill at the finish when sprinters curve and stretch their backs on the bike like cats and the victory is  matter of cents of seconds, you can't avoid to scream when a guy loses control and goes off road into the crowd while others brake and it's a general fell. Even if it happened a few hours ago and you already know, you can't avoid to fell upset. Cycling involves risks. We know, we accept that, we must do everything to make it safe but 100% safe is impossible when you ride a bike 70 km/h or more in group of 200 riders. Brave and mad, cyclists know better.
Results are important but stories are what we love. And faces. That's why the internet is great: we have daily tons of  pictures and videos, we watch live a race from the other side of the world. But I still believe in the power of writing. I remember a Vuelta that we couldn't watch because we were far from any tv or pc and we used to read on the Gazzetta every day after school. My son – who was 6 -  sometimes tells me: "It was cool mom to read about it, to imagine, to wait for the news..." I found the same feeling in "La fiamma rossa" by Mura... memories from a time when cycling was few seconds on your road – if you were lucky – and every day on your newspaper, usually pink if you were in Italy.
What about stage 2? I'll write when I'll have watched it. But yes... Martin Kohler leads the race. How proud!

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