By Shane Stokes
After three days of the 2006 Vuelta, Davitamon Lotto rider Chris Horner has noticed that one general classification rider is a lot more focused than his rivals thus far. "So far everyone seems very calm. The only person who is racing like he is focused on winning this thing is Carlos Sastre. There are a lot of favourites out there, by all means, but he is the only guy who is really concentrating. He is racing here like he would at the Tour - he is at the front the whole time, not taking any risks.
"I'm not sure if that is really necessary, given the way things have been going here, but he is the only guy who is doing that. The whole CSC team is fully behind him, that is for sure."
When Cyclingnews caught up with Horner this morning, the American and several other riders were sheltering from the sun under an orange tree. Needless to say, the heat was the first topic of conversation. "It is crazy hot here," he said with a smile. "It was 41 yesterday, we were out there in that day and everyone was creeping. At the end, we were all thrashed just from going through 20 bottles each…that was a lot of fluids.
"We really felt it in the evening. Actually, if you just sat out on the beach in that heat for the same length of time you would be tired! You just couldn't keep up with what you needed, fluid wise. We had a couple of guys working on the front, and at one point I thought that one of them was going to pass out!"
Wednesday's stage will see the riders tackle the first big mountains of the race. They will climb to the summit finish at the La Covatilla ski station, an altitude of 1,960 metres. Horner admitted that he is in the dark as to how he will get on. "I am not sure how I am set for tomorrow. We will see... We haven't really done anything hard enough to know what to expect. I felt good at the finish the day before yesterday, but yesterday I felt terrible at the end. But I think everyone felt that way yesterday.
"It is my first two days of racing since the Tour…hopefully the legs open up really soon (laughs). It is not like the Tour where you have eight or nine days to open up the legs and find some form - here you need to find the form right away, or maybe you will be just racing for stage wins. Anyway, if the form doesn't come for tomorrow, hopefully it comes later on and I can go for a stage or something."