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Home Foreign races reports Tour de Guyane 2009
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Diary from Guyane part 8

A relaxing recovery stage was planned for today starting in Montsinerry and finishing by four smaller circles in the town of Kourou.

Two big circuits in the countryside followed by 4 small ones in the “space city”. We got soon to discover this is not going to be a nice and relaxing stage. Two French teams decided to cooperate in front and soon got rid of almost everyone due to a strong wind. Only 16 riders stayed in front, including the yellow-jersey Gene and green-jersey Lemoine. Surprisingly the 3rd guy in the general classification, Frederic Theobald, along with German Ramler and the Dutch Daniel Korevaar were missing. It was up to us, Germans and the Guadeloupeens to chase the leasing group. Despite our efforts, the gap got only bigger and bigger and was over 5 minutes in the end. They must have ridden really well up in front since our group was chasing hard with the average speed above 50km/h. Geert won the sprint of the peloton, but we really missed out on this stage with Daniel dropping to an overall 15th place.

The Finish town of Kourou is really like from a different planet. Lots of soldiers as the French Legion headquarters in the country is located here. The average number of soldiers in the country is approximatelly 25.000 soldiers. Their role is to safeguard the people living here and they are also being appointed from this place to missions all over South America. Their primary role thought is to secure the space centre Arianespace. The whole city is adapted to this special type of its inhabitants. There are many restaurants, bars, even a McDonald and a casino for the soldiers earning good money. The feeling of a really classy town is further emphasised by nice hotels and accomodation all along the sea shore of the Atlantic ocean. By far the biggest premises along the shore host the army casern. I don’t feel very well after the stage. No real ache, I just feel dizzy and really tired (my friend Marek Čanecký would say ‘shitty legs’). I’d feel better if my legs hurt, that way I would at least know what’s wrong we me. I had hard times in today’s stage staying in the chasing group when riding in the strong wind. I hope I will feel better tomorrow. Many of my friends ask me what is it like to race in a stage race, how it feels. Of course you feel different every day and you do have the most power during the first day. But if everything goes well, your body will get in a kind of trance state of being, and will switch to a different mode of functioning so you are capable to ride each day on a pretty much the same level. It’s sometimes hard to get going in the beginning of the stage, but the body gets accustomed after a while and the rest of the stage is all right. When a crisis gets hold of you, it’s mostly a tiredness and slackness, not really any kind of pain. My personal experience is that I feel really tired second day after a hard race day. Then all you can do is pray and hope for an easy tempo – it’s very well possible that even good riders drop out of the grupetto and don’t make it to the finish line in the given time gap (see Jens Voigt, carrying a yellow-jersey in Tour de France who finished one Tour de France stage over the time limit simply because he was not able to keep the peloton’s pace). When you find yourself in a state such as this one, you find it hard to increase your heart-rate level and find it even harder for your tired legs to pedal. If you survive a day like this one, the following day feels better. This is also the reason why a Tour de France riders suffer after their rest day. Usually there’s the Queen stage on Sunday and since the rest day followes, everyone rides in the stage as if it was the last one of the whole Tour. On Monday they only go for a short recovery ride and therefore they feel bad on start of the following-Tuesday’s stage. It’s because of the interruption of the fast racing speed the previous rest day but also caused the tiredness from the Sunday stage. I lived through something similar in todays’ Kourou stage. I hope I will feel better tomorrow as there are two half-stages ready for us. A fast 98km long stage to Matoury and a difficult, hilly individual time-trial of 17km in the afternoon.

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