Tuesday's mountain stage was a tough one for everyone, but especially for the sprinters and their helpers.
Gerolsteiner's Tim Klinger did his best to get into a breakaway group on Tuesday, trying it as often as he could. Unfortunately, in doing so, he forgot to eat and drink enough.
He made his final unsuccessful effort just before the first climb of the day, where he paid for it. "At first I could stay in one of the larger groups that had fallen back, and then I fell further and further back, until I finally landed in the McEwen group," he wrote on radsport-aktiv.de.
He was able to swallow enough powergels and cola to keep him going, but it didn't help much. "I started feeling better after the long climb in the middle of the stage. But there were still 120 km to go. At first there were seven of us in the group, later 11 or 12 riders -- the gruppetto behind the gruppetto, trying desperately to finish within the time limit. In the end we made it with four minutes to spare."
Teammate Robert Förster did a little better. His main concern was having enough to drink. "Within five minutes you had sweated out the whole bottle you just drank." He fought his way through the race until he was saved, he wrote on radsport-news.com.
"At the foot of the next-to-last climb, someone timidly called out "gruppetto." Like a shot, 30 riders relaxed. Everyone was at their limit, all flat. I have seldom experienced anything like that. But a 250 kilometre long race with 4000 metres to climb and a temperature like at the Vuelta demands something from you."
Christian Knees of Milram had other problems. "My knee has not gotten better," he noted on rad-net.de. "Now and then I had such pain that I thought I would have to drop out. Climbing was better than descending. But I wanted to force myself to finish no matter what. Tomorrow is flat again and I want to ride for Alessandro [Petacchi]."