There was a common theme in what the Vuelta riders have written in their online diaries: It's just too darn hot in Spain!
Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster could hardly find anything to be satisfied with. After the evening stage Saturday, Sunday's stage started early so as not to overlap (too much) with the Formula One race being held in Turkey. (Note: Why do the Spaniards care about the auto race? Because the leader in the rankings and favourite to win the title again this year is Fernando Alonso - coincidentally, a Spaniard). But back to bikes.
"Yesterday evening after the late race I absolutely could not get to sleep. Tossed and turned, I don't know when I finally closed my eyes," he wrote on Sunday. "So of course this morning we had to get up 6:30, because things started so early today. It was still dark outside!"
"But the worst of all is the heat. This morning it was nearly 30 degrees, and under way over 40 degrees. The wind feels like a hot-air hair dryer." (www.radsport-news.net)
T-Mobile's Bernhard Kohl put it politely, calling the starting time "unusual." the young Austrian rider, who is captain of the T-Mobile squad, said the only thing that bothered him today was the heat. "At the finish it was 42 degrees and I was not the only one who was totally soaked with sweat." (bernhardkohl.at)
Another Austrian rider named Bernhard, this one Eisel with Française des Jeux, said he was struggling with the heat, too, but also had a few words over the actual race. "A podium place was possible today. But 150 meters before the finish, as I came from behind with a lot of momentum, Erik Zabel closed the door on me. He pulled over right in front of me, I have no idea why. I had to brake and didn't have any chance left." (www.eisel.com)
Finally, Rabobank's Grischa Niermann called it "a very quiet and comfortable race, that is if you can call 40 degrees comfortable." He says that he stayed by captain Denis Menchov and brought him safely to the finish in the middle of the pack well behind the sprinters.
And in the pack is where we can expect to see not just Niermann and Menchov, but all of the Rabobank riders for the next day or two. "Since we will hopefully need all of our strength during this race, we won't be seeing a Rabobank rider in an escape group. On Wednesday, after the first mountain-top finish, we will know how Menchov, but also Rasmussen and Boogerd are doing, and what our tactics for the rest of the Vuelta will be." (grischa-niermann.de)