Tom Boonen of Quick Step is suffering in the heat at this year's Vuelta a Espana, but the Belgian is still hoping to do well in Thursday's flat stage to Cordoba, where he won his first Vuelta stage three years ago.
Boonen finished nearly twelve minutes down Wednesday on another scorching hot day. “When I got to the finish, it was as if I had a sunstroke. I felt so empty,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.
“If this weather persists for another three days, there will be casualties,” he warned. “I can normally do pretty well in the heat, but here in southern Spain it is extreme.”
To stay hydrated, Boonen is drinking eight or nine litres of liquid during each stage. “I also take enough salt solutions and minerals like calcium and magnesium. There's a thin line between being thirsty and making sure you don't get stomach and intestinal problems.”
Boonen had a go in the sprint on Sunday, but finished 22nd behind CJ Sutton (Team Sky) “However, I think it went very well. I want to go all the way to Madrid. And if possible, win in Cordoba.”
Even if he has not been successful, his Quick Step team is having a excellent Vuelta. Sylvain Chavanel is wearing the leader's jersey.
“It feels good to ride with the leader of a Grand Tour,” he said.
It means more work for all the team and may cost Boonen his chance of a stage win, but he is ready to accept that.
He wants to go for the expected mass sprint in Cordoba “but the question is whether things will work out after we've defended the jersey for another day. I've done a lot of work, but I've done it with a smile.”