Vuelta diary watch: A hard day in the mountains

His new and unaccustomed role as captain lay heavy on Bernhard Kohl's slight shoulders, but the 24-year-old T-Mobile rider seems to bear the burden well. "It's been a long time since I was so nervous and tense before a start," he writes. "I think I fulfilled my assignment well. Tenth in the stage and ninth in GC after the first difficult stage are good results for me."

"I stayed with Sastre as long as possible, but 4 km before the finish, it was just a tick too fast for me and I had to find my own rhythm. I was able to hold the time loss within limit." (

Grischa Niermann reports that Rabobank had to accept some unwanted news after the stage. "Today in the first mountain stage of this Vuelta we unfortunately had to realize that Denis Menchov won't repeat his win from last year." Niermann won't give up entirely, though. "We won't stick our heads in the sand, but will try to win a stage or two." (

Needless to say, the mountain stage was not at all to the liking of Gerolsteiner sprinter Robert Förster. On the second climb he found a small group with "...the usual suspects, my homeboys like Bäckstedt and Renshaw." He even found an advantage in riding so far back. "The good thing when you ride alone off the back is that you never have a problem getting something to drink. In the field it's always a big thing until you've made your way through all the autos. You have to look at it positively!"

With 8 km left, he worried about making it to the finish within the time limit. "So I went to work: I rode up as if in a delirium," and made it with minutes to spare. His summary of the day: "If my body is my fortune, then today I am broke!" (

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