By Bjorn Haake
Jeremy Hunt of Crédit Agricole is hoping to get well again after falling sick during the Vuelta a España. The British rider wants to recover for the final stages and hopefully contest another sprint before the race ends in Madrid.
Getting sick during a Grand Tour is not much fun; Hunt caught something a couple of days ago and has been suffering ever since. "I was up the whole night for two days," he said.
Fortunately for Hunt, he came out of the tough Asturian mountains not completely exhausted. He explained his simple strategy for getting through them.
"You gave to get over the first two categorised climbs then you just ease into it," he said. "When you hit 20km to go mark, you have to be with the first group. Once you have done that you can just ride your own pace."
Riding your own pace makes the days in the mountains a bit easier. And Hunt also found help from the many spectators, something Hunt wasn't used to. "In the Vuelta a few years ago when we did mountain top finishes, it wasn't anything like the Angliru. On the Angliru there were thousands!"
That left him wondering how all those fans got up there. "You could see a few guys who camped up there, but many did not." Indeed, a throng of fans walked up the Angliru. And they had to walk back down after the race. It was a sort of gigantic pilgrimage near the Camino de Santiago.
Last but not least, Mother Nature helped Hunt get through the Angliru. "We were lucky for the weather. I can't imagine it in the rain. I was watching it on TV a few years ago, and there were crashes just everywhere."
Hunt speculated that the Angliru was probably the hardest mountain that the pros race, but he said it wasn't the toughest hill. "I went to Colombia once for the World Championships [in 1995], and there are hard climbs there as well."
Going into the latter stages of the race, Hunt observed that his team's strategy is shifting. "I am sure it will be [Sébastien] Hinault and Roche. Roche is going good. He attacked yesterday [stage 16], but he went a bit long," said Hunt.
Hinault took the sprint in stage 10, which makes him the one of the team's go-to guys. Hunt will also attempt to return to the mix on Sunday.
"I just need a few days to recover," he said, hinting that he might be back racing at the front as soon as Thursday or Friday if he continued to feel better.