Italy, May 18, 2006
The transfer by plane after the 10th stage last Tuesday saw the riders get into the hotel by midnight. Allain Gallopin, myself and two mechanics and soigneurs, we arrived by car at 2:00am.
The rest day was welcomed by the riders. We were able to enjoy it, with the fantastic weather here. We stayed in the same hotel where we were for our January training camp, the Hotel Caesar on Lido di Camaiore. The beaches were all cleaned up and the deckchairs were out, and I had a fantastic view of the Mediterranean Sea from the third floor. I even got the chance to go out on the bike for a 50km spin with the boys; I haven't had too much opportunity to do that this season.
The boys just kicked back for the rest of the day. Ivan had to attend a press conference but for the rest, everyone was in cruising mode.
Yesterday evening, I went to a dinner organised by the CSC company in conjunction with their seminar in Florence. I drove across there and spoke about Team CSC and the Giro. The participants were very happy to get some inside info and feedback on the team. It was interesting for me to see the other side of the coin, from the sponsors' point of view.
Time trials are just massive days. I followed Michael Blaudzun, then I followed Jens Voigt. From when Michael finished to when Jens started was about one hour. From the time Michael finished, the wind had totally turned around, and went from blowing an easterly to a westerly, it was quite strong. I had the time splits of Michael and compared those to Jens'. I had to recalculate how he was performing compared to Michael. In the first 25km, Jens was going 3-4 km/h slower than Michael, but in the tailwind sections, Jens was doing 8-10 km/h faster. Jens ended up with 4 minutes lead over Michael.
Jens is Jens, he's a German tank and he's indestructible, in his own words. At the end he was sitting consistently on 55-57 km/h. That's what Jens likes best, riding flat out. He was good. It also gave us a guideline which Bjarne was able to use later when Ivan rode his TT.
Ivan was stoked with his ride. He's come a long way with his time trialling. These results didn't come easy; it's taken a lot of work. His training and his time-trialling technique have been supervised intensely by Bjarne. On such a flat parcours, he's improved considerably compared to previous years.
Jan Ullrich showed his consistency in time-trialling again today. He's definitely getting back to some awesome form. I don't care what anybody says, he'll be there again in July.
Bjarne and Ivan are very happy with how the day went. The team is feeling good, and the boys are feeling confident about themselves and they strongly believe in Ivan. We were all in the team bus watching Ivan riding. Nicki, Jens and Carlos were yelling at the television wanting more and more time checks. It was a funny sight. It's fantastic how a great result from the team leader lifts the whole team.