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Calm before the storm

By:
David Millar
Published:
August 28, 2009, 18:59 BST,
Updated:
August 28, 2009, 20:40 BST
Race:
Vuelta a España

Millar recons Vuelta prologue and combats boredom in Assen

Inaki setting up my 54cm TT bike.

Inaki setting up my 54cm TT bike.

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In the words of Kiwi Guy, 'This is not Monaco. Our Thursday was quiet, involving the normal pre-race hanging out complaining about how bored we are. The fact that we spend most of our lives being lazy, not doing much while off our bikes, seems to slip our minds as soon as we're given a day with nothing to do while at a race.

Anyone who didn't know us very well would think we were not only highly-tuned physically but also intellectually, so the fact that one day killing time at a hotel can turn our behaviour into that of caged animals is rather amusing. Pro cyclists saying they're bored, man alive, we're the Jedi Masters of boredom, embracing and wallowing in it to degrees mere mortals can only try to imagine. It's part of the job description: the less one does off the bike, the better one is on the bike. Fact.

So yesterday involved pottering around, sitting at the breakfast table for an hour and a half drinking inordinate amounts of coffee, talking about nothing while we waited for the UCI blood control at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. we went for a bike ride to check out the prologue and spin the legs. Inaki [Goiburu, team mechanic] had decided I should ride a 54cm and not a 56cm TT bike, so I tested that around the Assen TT circuit for a few laps and decided that Inaki was right.

Inaki setting up my 54cm TT bike.

I stayed and did a few more laps on my own which meant riding back to the hotel solo. On leaving the hotel I had the foresight to save the location on my Garmin, what I forgot to check was if it had the map chip in it. So, when leaving the TT circuit, I hit the 'Go to' button only to see a roadless map with a straight line to the hotel; useful if I could fly. Anyway, it got me home eventually, and without it I'd probably still be riding around Dutch suburbs. They all look the same to me.

Lunch was next; this involved a lovely piece of fish. Then, on returning to my room, I promptly passed out asleep for 30 minutes. On waking I went down to the hotel bar and had a coffee and spent the next 20 minutes frustrated at my computer not staying online.

I then decided to set up my new shoes. I got the 2009 Specialized with the double ratchet last week, they're luuuuurvely (I'm a sucker for new flash stuff), and these are definitely flash. So my black mod specials are dead, Long Live The Black Mod Specials. This is a sad day for them what with being consigned to the following car, but technology moves on with a thoughtless disregard for its past. They will keep a bit of pride, though, by being the best, most beautiful spare shoes in the boot of the car...

I wanted to find a nice spot to sit and set up the shoes, and the café at the front of the hotel seemed the best. On arriving there I found Kiwi Guy sitting having a cappuccino. He kindly invited me to sit next to him and we spent the next hour talking about life, the universe and everything while I screwed cleats on to my shoes.

We watched our broken bus being towed away by a truck so monstrous as to be totally deserving of a Transformers alter ego. I then killed some more time trying to get my computer online again before giving up as it was massage time, this took up 45 minutes.

Kiwi Guy and I sit drinking a cappuccino watching our team bus being towed away by a possible Transformer.

When I got back to my room the freebie race backpack was awaiting me filled with all the race literature: the Road Book, Rules and Regulations Book, Hotel List Book and History-Stats Book. Ryder and me then lay on our beds, studied all of these and shared thoughts. I knew it was time to put them back where they came from when I was cross referencing the hotels of the Race Directors with those of Caisse d'Epargne and our team (cause I know they'll have the best hotels)...

I tried to get my computer online again so I tried moving around different areas of the hotel. Dan Martin was sitting on the landing at the top of the stairs and proclaimed he had found the best signal there. I sat down next to him and couldn't get online.

Then it was time for dinner. Obviously we had the most amazing service and we were all done and dusted in 30 minutes, so no time was used up there. I retired to the bedroom where I read for two hours, during which I received a text message from Stuey O'Grady at 9:30 p.m. saying, 'Bored already...' I replied, 'I remember when these days would be filled with excitement and nerves... I guess 15 Grand Tours will take the edge off. Rode round circuit, we're gonna look poo compared to MotoGP.'

I then spoke to Nicole, read some more and went to sleep. Calm before the storm?

David Millar is in his second season of racing for American ProTour team Garmin-Slipstream.

Author
David Millar

British professional David Millar returns to the Vuelta a España for the fifth time in his career, the first since basing himself in Girona, Spain. The Garmin-Slipstream rider has won stages in all three Grand Tours, worn the leader's jersey in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, earned podium finishes in the time trial world championships and has claimed multiple national championships on the road and track in a career starting in 1997. Follow Millar's exclusive Cyclingnews diary as he undertakes the third Grand Tour start of his 2009 season.

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