Teams take it easy in the rain

Race organizers do everything they can to come up with new ideas, to interest both the riders and...

Race organizers do everything they can to come up with new ideas, to interest both the riders and the public. The Tour of Poland thought it had a great idea with its team time trial opener: three laps of a one-kilometre course in downtown Warsaw. Unfortunately, the one thing they couldn't control was the weather, which showed itself from its nastiest side.

Heavy rains made a travesty out of the stage. Team Gerolsteiner was on its way to a probable best time when Fabian Wegmann, Matthias Russ and Beat Zberg all crashed in the last curve. Fortunately, none of them was injured. CSC, usually a heavy favourite in team time trials, opted for a leisurely ride and finished dead last. Because of the bad weather, it had been agreed beforehand that the race time would not count toward the final classification.

"I am very satisfied with our start. Unfortunately Marco Pinotti slipped on the start ramp and fell back. At the end we missed him as a strong time trialist," said T-Mobile Directeur Sportif Jan Schaffrath on "But on this curvy one-kilometre round course, we needed more riders who could handle the turns more than those who could make the best speed. So his loss wasn't all that great to us."

Schaffrath said that the decision to neutralise the standings was the right one. "It was fairly dangerous. That's why we planned from the beginning not to ride 100 percent, to stay on the safe side."

Rabobank decided to take it easy. "It was then immediately clear to me that we would not take any risks," team manager Frans Maassen said on the team's website, "There will be other days. Besides, we have two guys with us, Robert Gesink and Pieter Weening, who might be able to play a part in the general classification here. They did not feel like riding this prologue at all. Mathew Hayman was willing to have a go at the leader's jersey, but I did not want to take any chances. and a few other teams felt the same way. And yet there were still many cyclists who crashed. Go figure."

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