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Gesink nearly stranded in Spanish snow

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Robert Gesink (Rabobank)

Robert Gesink (Rabobank) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Robert Gesink and Rick Flens during Rabobank's North Sea sailing trip.

Robert Gesink and Rick Flens during Rabobank's North Sea sailing trip. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Rabobank's Robert Gesink must have felt more like an arctic explorer than a pro cyclist on Monday as he attempted to make his way to Italy for this week's Tirreno-Adriatico. The Dutchman had expected to take his regular taxi journey from Girona, Spain, to the local airport for a flight to Livorno, Italy, but hadn't counted on the weather working against him.

A late winter storm dumped up to 25 inches of snow on the Costa Brava and Barcelona, the first snow in the region in 40 years. The chaos was aggravated by a massive electrical outage.

"Normally, I always take a taxi to the airport, but now there was no car," said Gesink to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. He did eventually get a ride to the airport with an airline employee, but they got bogged down in the snow with 2.5 kilometres still to go. "There was only one option: On foot, I had no choice."

Gesink arrived at the airport only to find it closed to flights. Fortunately, he was able to catch a bus to the larger airport in Barcelona, but even that was not easy. “On the way we had to zig-zag around some fifty vehicles stranded in the snow," said Gesink. "We had needed more than two hours to go the eighty kilometres.”

Once in Barcelona, things went better – at last. “I almost immediately had a direct flight to Pisa, where I arrived ten hours after I had left my apartment in Girona."

The rider wasn't the only one with transportation problems, with several teams likely to face vehicular shortages for the opening days of the Italian race. The Rabobank team bus was stuck in Spain, as were support vehicles for Astana, Cervélo TestTeam and Garmin-Transitions.

“We decided Monday to boat the bus from Barcelona to Genoa to travel," said Rabobank team manager Frans Maassen. "But the storm was such that the ferries are no longer allowed to leave port. But they will be able to leave before Thursday morning.”

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