We've arrived at the first rest day, which took a little longer than usual, as the rest days are situated on Tuesdays in the Vuelta a España this year. They are normally Mondays in most Grand Tours, or so I'm told.
It's safe to say that as a team at this stage we can be satisfied with our results and the way we've ridden, with Leo [Leopold König] taking a victory against the best, and all of us contributing toward that.
As you all probably watched the stage, I won't re-hash what happened too much. After Bartosz [Huzarski] was forced out of the break of 13 riders (due to his proximity on GC), Schorni [Daniel Schorn] and Jan [Barta] set about chasing the break, whittling the gap down for the whole stage with no help from any other team. Then, as we all know, Leo finished the job off. I did get more than a few "what the fuck are you guys doing?" comments when I came back through the bunch with bidons, because the pressure we were putting on had the race in single file in the gutter, so the fact that Leo finished off the job made it all pretty satisfying in the end.
To be honest, I've been surprised by the lack of animosity in the peloton, in most races it seems like a radio station of 'godverdomme!' And 'catso fai!' But it seems to me like here everyone understands what is going on and they just let each other get on with the job of all trying to be in exactly the same place at exactly the same time.
Chris Horner is cool, if he's not where he wants to be, he just brakes, and then rides up the outside of the bunch out of the seat at 60kph to where he wants to be without a word said to some guy that's probably going to get dropped about 1 hour before him.
In terms of fatigue I definitely felt the rest day was welcome, it's been a long way to get here, but I haven't really felt out of control yet.
The sprint stages were as hectic as I expected, with no real team having a complete lead-out. I helped Schorni during the first two and then I got to have a go during the seventh stage. The sprint was like a washing machine! One second you were sitting where you wanted to be, the next second you were completely out of place. I ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time but as you can see from the top riders, they have the strength to get out of situations like that, so I need to work on it.
Not much has been said about Wes Sulzberger's crash and how incredibly tough it was for him to get up that climb during stage four (1.8km 13%, sections of 30%) with a broken collarbone, (not a crack mind you, it was in two pieces) and a fractured elbow. I'm still in disbelief of how much that must've hurt to reach the top.
I trained with Wes whilst I was in Andorra most days and it's bloody hard to see something like that happen when you see and understand all the suffering that goes into preparing for something like this. But I know he's probably on the ergo as we speak, with the same determination that got him up that climb, getting ready for his next race.
I'm off to get a couple hours on the bike soon, and then I'll spend the rest day doing the recommended activity; resting!
After stints with the Australian Institute of Sport as a full scholarship holder, and time spent with HTC-Highroad as a stagiare, Dempster now rides for Team NetApp-Endura and will be going into the Vuelta ready for his first Grand Tour.
The path to the Vuelta has been a long one for the rider who has never given up hope of reaching the top. Having raced with Drapac Cycling, Southaustralia.com-AIS, Rapha Condor Sharp, Endura, various Australian National Teams and now NetApp-Endura, Dempster has worldy experience and brings a unique insight into the professional cycling world.
The 25-year-old from Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, will be bringing you the inside line on the hectic bunch sprints and the gruelling mountain top finishes over the next three weeks.
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