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Home Foreign races reports Tour de Guyane 2009
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Diary from Guyane part 5

Two half stages on programme of the day today.

A 142km long hilly stage from St.Laurent du Maroni, passing Mana and returning back to St.Laurent du Maroni with a finish line in front of the Town Hall. The course is very unusual – small groups happen to break-away and reunite far in front, making a 32 member leading group. We have Daniel Korevaar and Jorg van Oostende in the front group. Yellow-jersey Lemoin as well as all other important riders in their respective jerseys stayed in the peloton. Peloton with the French team Akoi is having hard times to keep the pace up and soon we are loosing incredible 9 minutes to the leading group. One of the reason for this is a bad cooperation, or let’s call it right names - a rivalship, of the three French teams in the race, Coulaines, Akoi Bretagne and Pontivy. The same lack of cooperation applies to the three Dutch teams, Global Altipower Team, Ijseelstreak and Schijndel, all of them are racing only for their own team. With the time gap of 9 minutes, the obviously strongest team Selection Guadeloupe decided to control the race themselves. And so we experienced the Hell in the short steep climbs. Many riders dropped out of the peloton. Surprisingly no falls though – this is really a speciality of this race. Average speed of the race is always really high, in the top 40ties, but even if there is a side wind, noone has problems riding well without any faults resulting in falls. Local riders are even used to take refresments from along the route in a 60km/h speed. I’ve seen many of them taking a 2l bottles full of water in a fast descent or when they were dropping out they took a big bottle of water, poured it over themselves so as to refresh themselves. Only after that they realized they are being dropped, so that’s the point where they start to sprint in the far back and very easily leave you behind if you are not used to this type or riding or well aware of it and you ride in back. The chasing group was soon reduced to some 30 riders. There was of course no time to cover the whole 9 minutes loss, but they reduced it to satisfactory 2 and a half minutes. In the final sprint up in front, French Nevo from Pontivy team took the stage victory. Our riders Korevaar and Oostende finished 12. and 15. respectively. I arrived in the chasing group with a loss of 2:30 minutes. There were changes in the general classification though and a Dutch rider Leusen from Ijsellstreak team was the new Yellow-jersey of the day as he arrived in the leading group. An individual time trial followed in the afternoon, with a 3,5km small uphill followed by a 3,5km easy descent. The fastest one was an ex-champion of the Panamerican games, a Guadeloupeen Martial Gene with a tight advantage over the runner-up German Ramler. Leusen kept his yellow jersey and Gene moved up to a 2nd place with a small loss of 39 secunds. The best time trialist of our team was Korevaar finishing in 25 place. None of us had a time-trial special, so we were not expecting to do extremely well. I finished in 52nd place loosing 1min. 27secunds to the winner. The majority of racers aiming for a good result, including European riders, came with a time-trial bikes what made a big difference to one’s performance. Time-trials in this race can affect the general classification to a big extent, so anyone aiming for a good overall result needs to bring special equipment for time trials. Our best general classification rider, Daniel Korevaar had an 20th place with a 7:01 min. loss to the yellow jersey in the General Classification so far.

A big surprise awaited us at the hotel. I found a half a metre long green iguana or sime kind of lizard, I don’t really see the difference in species. He didn’t look scared at all, only slightly iritated as if he realized he is the one to leave the room, not me. I reported the allien in my room at a reception but lady there only replied with a smile on her face I would have to get rid of him myself.

There’s a stage from St.Laurent to Sinnamary tomorrow. First half is a hilly one, second half of the stage flat but very windy. I’m getting slightly nervous – I was looking for the mass sprints in this race, but so far there happend to be only one and that one was actually a true mountainous finish despite the short distance of the climb. I truly hope there will be whole peloton sprinting at the finish line tomorrow, or that at least I will be in the first group if peloton comes split again. I prefer a mass sprint of 100 riders though. There’s too much of a place for weaker and less technical riders in a small group, so the finish is too crowded then. One needs to be more experienced and fearless in a big mass sprint with tactical and good technical riding skills. I really long for a finish like this and believe it might be well possible since the General Classification seems to be pretty stable by now.

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