Koldo Fernández finished 14th in yesterday's bunch sprint of the 11th stage that was won by comeback man Alessandro Petacchi, but is now hoping for a birthday present on Thursday's 12th stage. The Spaniard declared after the race that "I spent lots of energy to place myself well, but in the decisive moment I didn't have anything left." His plan was the same that most sprinters have in mind when they hit the last few hundred metres. "My intention was to take Petacchi's wheel, but it is difficult. It is a wheel in great demand and you have to fight for it," Fernández realized that his idea was hardly unique.
He acknowledged that his team isn't set up for sprinters like the Milram train. "These kinds of finishes are good for him [Petacchi], he has a team that can prepare the sprint very well for him. And when there are many turns in the final part, they [Milram] enter with the whole team on the front and we who ride behind fight so hard against each other, we get the bill presented later." Fernández explained why there is little competition against Petacchi in these circumstances. "When we reach the moment of the sprint, you can tell how spent everyone else already is."
The lone sprinter on the Basque climber's team was a bit sad of the lost opportunity, but instead of dwelling on the past he was looking ahead. "I lost an opportunity but I still have two weeks. I will return tomorrow with the intent to try again in Hellín, I hope I can do better than today and be a factor for the win."
The Spaniard noted the wear and tear on the peloton already. "It shows that we already have done a few stages. There is generally less power." He would love to get a birthday present with a victory. "We'll see if we have luck and can celebrate my birthday with a present. That would be phenomenal for the morale of the team and also to get more confidence for the following stages."
His team-mate Aitor Hernández said that "It's difficult to ride such a stage. There are many attacks and you can't go with everyone. In the end it was a Relax and an Andalucia rider, and there is nothing you can do, other than to save your energy for other days."
While somewhat resigned to the fact that "Lampre and Milram control the field to always get a bunch sprint," the Spaniard was hoping for the latter part of the race, as "The third week may be more favourable to go for a stage win in an escape. We have to take our opportunities."
For one who looks more to the overall classification such a day is experienced completely different. Samuel Sánchez (sixth overall at 4'43") declared that "today was a relatively quiet stage. We were relatively lucky and there was no [rain] storm in the end, which could have complicated the race." Sánchez made clear that the most important is to conserve energy for those who are just looking ahead to give it a go in the mountains. "In those stages that we have now the major objective is to spend the least amount of energy possible and not suffer from any incidents." The latter part is of course only partially in the rider's hands as misfortunes like crashes can happen any day.
Looking ahead the best-placed Euskaltel rider indicated that "later, there are more complicated stages, so in these coming days it is vital to save as much energy as possible, otherwise there could be a lack [of energy] later." Sánchez also indicated that the team is going well and there is no clash of interests, saying that "we look after Koldo Fernández, so he can participate in the sprints, he is doing well and he was already close to winning. Let's see if we have a bit of luck."