January 14, Day 11, Restday: "I'm looking
forward to the final days."
On the rest day I had only one
goal: refocus on the race. I know my form isn't bad, but with four days of purposeless makes you question yourself as a bike
rider, no matter how confident you are. The day started with a lot of rain, which is very unusual in January. We went for
a late breakfast (on race days we wake up around 6) and after that we had a team internet cafe session. In the end of the
afternoon we went for an easy 1,5 hour training ride. After dinner we went for a beer and I have to say, I'm looking forward
to the final days. I reached my goal for the day :-)
January 15, Day 12, Stage 10: "I decided to make a jump
to the break."
We started with a descent and the group was split up in
3 pieces right away. In Thailand (and in Europe for that matter) I had no problems at all staying on in descents, but here
the guys ride with a lot of guts, especially considering the pavement. In the long climb following 5 guys attacked and as
the race leaders teams (yes, there a 3 complete teams riding for mister Medina or "El Cato") didn't react at first, I decided
to make a jump to the break. We rode with all we had, again also in the descents, but never gained more than a 1'50" lead.
To speak with the words of Pol Nabben, once we had more than 1'30" the Zulia teams went crazy. Halfway through the stage it
was over for my break, but at least I feel part of the race again. Considering the tough time trial for tomorrow, I hung on
in the rolling valley but took it easy on the final climb. After the race our sport director's team car broke down for the
2nd time this week. Our driver Mico is a great guy, but how can you earn a living driving a taxi that doesn't work?
January 16, Day 13, Stage 11: "I started
as 5th rider and overtook all 4 riders in front of me."
Time trial day. I like these days, as they are short, honest and intensive.
I started bike riding as summer training for ice speed skating long ago and I still make use of the pacing strategies I learnt
in my former sport. Even in an uphill time trial, I should be able to outperform a couple of the 50kg climbers. As the only
European team we are very privileged to be rode to and from the stages in a big luxurious touring car bus. Going uphill through
small village streets though, we are always the latest to reach the start. Normally this is not a major problem, but together
with an accident on the way out and all of us starting early, I had more than enough stress from the bus transfer to make
up for the lack of pre-race warm up. I started as 5th rider and overtook all 4 riders in front of me. I couldn't push myself
to the maximum as I would when I am in front in GC, but it was a very solid race. The 19th place is what I expected myself
to be able to do beforehand.
After the race we were all very pleased to hear that Patrick Kos was
doing better. He left the race in the 8th stage and went for a training ride yesterday. He crashed in a downhill and needed
a lot of stiches in his left arm. He seemed fine yesterday evening, but passed out this morning during breakfast. He was brought
to hospital and the doctors couldn't find anything really disconserning. Everybody is here to enjoy the race and the worst
that can happen is somebody falling ill seriously. I'm glad that doesn't seem the case for now.