Julian Dean Diary
2009 Giro d'Italia: Stages 8 and 9.
Stage 8 - Easy Made Hard
By stage 8, in most grand tours you are starting to get to the point where you expect the stages to be dominated by breakaways. Even if the stages are hard, as was the case for the stage today, you prepare yourself for a couple of hours battling 'til the break goes and then the race is relatively controlled from there by the team defending the leader's jersey. Just as long as there is no-one in the break who is a threat to the top GC riders.
Today was anything but that. The race never stopped and everytime a break got established, it was chased down by a team that didn't have a rider in it. So this meant that the race was all go the whole day and every rise, every descent and every major climb was an all out shit fight just to survive. As it turned out, a break never stuck and the race was shattered by the end.
Different Directors of different teams had their riders on the front at various times throughout the day so the race never slowed down. For the riders it was one of the hardest days we have had and many of the riders carried a lot of 'unimpressed' sentiments about their Directors after today's stage. It was tough.
For me, it was a day where I just continually got dropped and came back after every climb until I got close enough to the finish where I could find a comfortable group to ride the last 50 km to the finish with. Anyway, I made it and it was another day in the can.
The Milan Show - Stage 9
As it is the centenary edition of the race, the organizers decided that it would be a good idea to have a circuit race in one of the most congested cities in Europe; Milan. A city that I think no matter how much planning or preparation you put into it, it would never be conducive to a street race. From the outset it was obvious that the race was horribly dangerous with parked cars, road furniture and tram tracks scattered at all angles around the course - the worst set of which were 300m from the finish line.
We were in a situation that I think most of the riders were not that comfortable with. However, cycling's premier problem of a lack of solidarity reigned supreme again and despite the fact that the majority of the peloton didn't want to race, the fear was put up some riders by their team bosses and we ended up racing after deliberating for half of the race as what to do. It was a situation that left me feeling a little disillusioned with the peloton again.
I strongly feel that the issue was not really just about today. It was more of a cumulation of the dangerous finishing circuits, unlit tunnels and dangerous descents of the last week and the Milan circuit race just topped it all off. I felt that by opting not to race, we had the chance to make a statement and show some solidarity. It was the chance to show that we are a cohesive force and not just a group of puppets who seem to be constantly dictated to and who just take whatever is thrown their way. To me our sport is dangerous enough. At certain times it requires us to take risks and that is ok as that is what we choose to do. But when day after day we are put in unnecessarily dangerous conditions, it becomes a little too much and shows little respect for us from the race organizers as to what we do.
So after all the hooplah, a couple of teams started racing and after riding for 30km/hr for the first half of the stage, the race got underway. It's always hard when you've been mucking around the whole day to suddenly having to flick the switch on to race mode. Anyway, we did what we could to get Tyler up for the sprint. I did a pretty shit job as I veered away from my usual lead-out style, to try and incorporate the other boys in the team, which didn't work out too well. Next time I think that it might be a case of leading out like I did in the old Credit Agricole days where I wait back a little bit and then hit 'em at the last moment. Anyway, that's what we are here for; to try and get it right for the Tour. Today was a bit of a stuff up but I hope that we can get it right before Tyler leaves.
We had a 4 hour bus transfer after the stage to Cuneo, where we have spent our first rest day of the Giro. A 4 hour bus trip that was dominated by Whitey in his best story telling form so it went by pretty quickly. I needed it.
While I have been getting through ok we have two very hard weeks ahead of us. So today I tried t make the most of the rest day. I had a fairly pleasant one actually - despite the fact that we got woken up early by the UCI for doping control. I had a nice easy 3 hour ride (the sort that I hope to enjoy when I am retired from racing), an afternoon nap and a massage. Almost the perfect recovery day. Let's just hope that it puts me in good stead for the days ahead.
Tomorrow is the most epic stage of the Tour (Giro); it's 260 km which some sick ass climbs. I reckon that it's going to take the grupetto 8 hours.
The whole team here at Roadcycling.com wishes you great success in the 2009 Giro Julz! Burn rubber!