17 August 2008

Tour of Denmark #2

Starting the fourth stage was kind of weird, the double stage was upon us, and it was funny to see how the staff and riders were going to handle it. Working in the women’s peloton, it is kind of normal in any stage race. In fact they seem to think that it is an integral part any race. We had a small stage in the morning of about 130km and an even smaller TT in the afternoon of 14.5km. The staff were getting a bit scared of the long day ahead, I was looking forward to it. It was easy, just don’t think about it too long and it’s fine, I was a veteran of double stages. I had drawn the long straw for the day, and had the morning at the truck organising all the TT bikes and equipment for the afternoon, so I had plenty to do, unfortunately. The weather for the week had been pretty nice everyday, up to 30’c most of the days, but this morning it was freezing. The hotel was right on the waterfront, and with the wind blowing it was chilling me to the bone. I dressed up warm and hibernated in the rear of the truck for the day. Only seven TT bikes, and a few wheels, I would be finished soon, then maybe I even might get a quick ride in, before the team arrived back from the mornings stage.

Marco Pinotti out on the course, about to pass his minute-man.

I really have a love-hate relationship with TT races. I love some of the technology that goes into them, the aerodynamics, the materials and the wheels. But I hate all the stress, the short stages, and the bullshit that is connected to ‘the test’. I don’t know what it does to the riders for the day, but somehow they seem to save all their stress and built up tension of the stage race for the TT. Some of them have it sussed, and look upon a TT with a happy outlook, others just detest the very thought of it. I am in two minds, the only thing I dislike is the amount of work that goes into a small TT, same work as a long one, but I suppose it’s over quicker. TT bikes are kind of like the freaks of the bike world (sorry but Tri bikes are even worse, I just don’t want to start talking about them cause they upset me too much). Every rider has a different preference in the set up and the components on each of their bikes. You just have to check everything twice, because you know they are going to make some changes at the start sooner or later. The other big problem is the bikes get checked at every race for the UCI regulations, even though pass through some of the commissionaires at some pretty big races no problems. There is always one or two races where you have issues with some dickhead judge who thinks the bike is illegal, but it’s not. I love these guys, and so do all the other mechanics lining up with bikes that passed every check the whole year except this one. But the bikes passed fine, the judges were pretty loose, so every bike was well in the limits.

Hey it's Franki, just pulled out a nice ride, 5th equal in the end.

All the boys were fired up, the bikes were ready, the sun was shining, and the wind was blowing like hell. The course was pretty open, so the first riders out would have a fairly hard time of it in the wind. Unlike most TT’s, the wind would be slowing down as the riders started, so being last would have an advantage. There was a fair few spectators hanging around, but most of them gravitated towards the CSC team base of course, we were passed by for the local team for a change. Just means we could get on with our work without anyone getting in the way. I was tailing only one of our guys for the race, Ronald was doing a couple, and the neutral service would pick up the rest. Franki was sitting the best on GC, so would be off last, I got the 2nd last seed of Pinotti. Last time I worked for him, he ended up winning the last stage TT of the Giro, so he was our secret weapon. By the time I got the first guys off to the start ramp, it was time to get Marco organised, he was feeling a bit nervous, even for such a small race he was worried. We started out pretty fast, and by the time we hit the halfway time check, we had the fastest time of the day, nice. As we finished the last two legs of the square-ish course, the wind was howling in his face. I had my fingers crossed every time that a gust hit him and the bike, moving from one side of the street to the other in a second. We came through the finish chute, fastest time came over the radio. I jumped out to congratulate him on such a good ride, I was happy, and so was Marco. Now the wait for the few riders left to come through the gate. Franki was off last, Ronald was following him, and you wouldn’t believe it, but the same halfway time as Marco. The wind had almost stopped by now, making it a bit easier for the last few, but it was still blowing a little though, evening it up a little. Franki comes through with the same time as Marco, right to the seconds, crazy. But it was not enough, four more riders through the gate ended up being faster, with my Swedish mate Gustav Larson taking the win for CSC for the stage. Franki 5th, Marco 6th with same time.

And the wicked bridge from the mainland to Copenhagen, nice work guys, looks great.

The last stage was nice and easy for me, driving the truck to the finish, and waiting for the boys and the bike to arrive. The finish was close to the centre of Copenhagen, so I would have a bit of time for a little sightseeing ride of the city. I found a good spot for the truck, right outside the showers and hit the road, it was sunny and warm and I had about three hours to kill. What else to do but grab my camera and go for a bit of a Tiki Tour of the city and the surrounds of the finish area. I had spent a bit of time here previously, so I found a few places I had not been before, and got relaxed before the long drive home. The road I happened to take into the city had no fewer than eight bike shops on, lucky they were all closed as I am sure there would have been a few something’s I would have found to spend my money on. There was a nice fixie I found in the window of one shop, a bit cheesy, but nice all the same. They say it is the city of bikes here, and from the amount of nice looking bike shops in a few kilometres, I would almost agree. As for the amount of people riding around, it was pretty impressive as well. The city was busy, seems like everyone was out enjoying the sun, the photography was a success, but the race was coming through soon, so I had work to do.

Nice looking overworked fixie in the window, 10000 Danish Krone, 1350 Euro, about NZ$6500 at this weeks exchange rate.

By the time I got back to the truck, the team bus had arrived, I had a few things to pack before the riders arrived for a few laps of the finish circuit. Just like the rest of the week, there were a whole lot of people waiting around the course, more than normal I hear. Must have something to do with CSC-Saxo Bank (the local Danish team) winning the Tour a couple weeks before. Who said cycling was suffering, not if the number of punters on the finish line, was anything to go by. The race arrived, a few laps of the finish and it was done. Not our most successful tour, but a sixth place from Franki, and Marco was ninth overall in the GC. It was CSC’s time to shine, we would take out the next races instead.

Pictures of the week can be found here and over here. And I almost forgot about these ones as well.

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