Carole here. I'm writing coz Julz is crook.....It's very reminiscent of the Vuelta 2 yrs ago actually. Back in 2001, Julian caught a stomach bug and when he wasn't sitting in the saddle of his bike, he was sitting on the loo! Well, he's re-living those hideous moments here. Hence, the lack of a diary last night. I rolled into Zaragoza today to catch a couple days of the race so I figured if Julz can't write, then I will! First things first, I shall fill you in on Tuesday's stage.
Beginning from Santander, they rolled on out of the Cantabrian coast and climbed up to the plateau to the finish in the very attractive and historical town of Burgos. The stage was continually up and down, although the stage profile only decided to point out a Cat.1 and Cat. 3 climb. The rest of the climbs must have been 'accidently' left off the profile....Funny that!!!! Although, Spanish races are notorious for making the stage profiles look flatter on paper than what they really are... It lulls riders in a false sense of, 'No worries, she'll be right' mentality. Julz however, knows better! Anyway, he spent the day getting dropped and flighting his way back to the main group, climb after climb...As you do when you're a sprinter.
A breakaway of 8 guys spent the day off the front and all but one of them managed to stay away til the finish. This left only 3 top 10 placings for the bunch to fill. Julz came second to Zabel in the half-pie bunchie and managed to pick up some points. He still didn't feel super on the bike though.
After dinner, he went back to his room where the cosy relationship with his hotel room toilet began....and continued right through the night until it was time to leave for the race. Thankfully the team doctor stuffed him full of stool-stopping medicine and he managed to race the stage yesterday without making a single toilet stop. Quite an achievement really!
Yesterday's stage left from the second least populated city in Spain, called Soria. There was only one Cat 3. climb but that didn't make the stage any easier. The peloton was battered and hammered by crosswinds all day which effectively split it into lots of weeny pieces.
Coming into the final, although Julz wasn't feeling too flash, he managed to get himself into a fairly good position. Going into the last turn - 900m from the finish - an Allesio rider sitting second wheel behind Petacchi, couldn't hold his position and gapped off himself and everyone else behind him. This left only Petacchi and one other rider to contest the sprint, which of course Petacchi won easily. Meanwhile, Julz, Zabel and the rest of the sprinters were 2 seconds behind. Julz was able to grab 3rd place. He was not overly happy with this though. He was pissed that the Allesio rider had caused such a crucial gap between Petacchi and the rest of the sprinters, but incidents like this are difficult to avoid when there's no real organised leadouts except from Petacchi's team.
Stage 6 - Man vs Wind
Today's stage was a 43.8km Time Trial around the notoriously windy city of Zaragoza. I was fortunate enough to follow Julz in the team car and even in the shelter of the car, I could still feel the wind pounding us. As for Julz....his only objective today was to survive the stage, expending the least amount of energy as possible while ensuring finishing within the time cut. Even so, it was not so easy for him to ride conservatively. The headwind was so strong at times that if he didn't pedal relatively hard, then he would for sure end up going backwards! The poor wee mountain goats out there were getting blown around just as much as the falling Autumn leaves!
As it turned out, Julz was able to make it well inside the time cut and now it's time for him to rest up as much as possible before tomorrow's horrendous stage which takes the Tour up into the merciless heights of the Pyrenees.
He's still pretty crook so it'll be touch and go for the next few days. If he can survive the next 3 mountain stages, he'll only have one more stage to race before the first rest day. Fingers crossed!