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Home Foreign races reports Tour de Guyane 2009
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Diary from Guyane part 9

So the Tour is almost over with its penultimate day of racing.

Morning stage from Kourou to Matoury is really fast. I was worried a bit about the strong wind that influenced yesterday’s stage so much, but luckily it’s not that bad today. A small group of only 5 riders escaped right from the beginning. Again none of our riders in the group. We try to decrease the gap with a local team Orange, but don’t succeed. Luckily Guadeoupe is surveying the tempo of the peloton and doesn’t allow the group to get any farther than 1:30 minutes from us. Another group of 5 riders with the yellow-jersey Gene breaks-away with the finishing line approaching. Both groups unite and consequently fall apart as the members of the first attack group are really tired by now. Along with Dutch team Schnijpel we do our best to terminate the break-away, but it’s too late already, we get a time gap of 5 seconds. Yellow-jersey Martial Gene confirms his qualities and takes the stage victory. Geert got second and me 4th in the sprint of the peloton. I could have done better, but underestimated the small climb to the finish line and sprinted on a heavy gear 53/11, so Geert, French Le Vesier and the winner of the 5th stage Marc Joseph outsprinted me at the finish line. It’s a pity we didn’t catch up the 2nd group of attack in front – despite good result in the mass sprint, we came in 7th and 9th respectivelly in the stage. An individual time-trial is to be disputed in the afternoon. We try to find local supporters willing to open their homes to us so that we could take shower. As we pass a local Fire Brigade Station, firemen are very enthusiastic to help us. Cycling is sport number one in this country, even outclasses football. Firemen have their own cycling team, about 100 elite riders. Considering the permanent number of population 130.000 inhabitants, these numbers seem incredible. Whenever the Tour is on, half of al the newspapers brings reports, interviews and results of the stages. TV brings coverage of each stage, some of them are even live plus there are these live debates each night on TV. Radio brings a live coverage of each stage and streams it even through internet. Local people are therefore happy and proud whenever they can become part of this show. It’s an honour to them as if David Beckham granted them a visit. After we take our shower, we ask the firemen to take a picture with us. Suddenly the fire alarm goes off – there’s an emergency call. They finish taking pictures with us first and only then become professionals again, their smiles vanish, they jump in 2 cars and dissappear very promptly. It looks really funny to me – despite knowing the alarm going off, they smile and take pictures with us, and when the picture-time is over, they change dramatically.

There are birds closed up in small cages at the station. Actually everywhere around. Some people even walk around or ride their bike around the city with the encaged bird in their hands. One lady explains to us it’s a big hobby of the Guyane people and that it is a very expensive hobby indeed. We mistrust this information since there are birds flying everywhere around and the cages used don’t seem to be any expensive ones either. Lady expains, with her face completely smileless and very serious, that a bird such as hers is very expensive with it’s price reaching even 3.000€. It’s the special nutrition enriched with vitamins that increases the price of the birds. Now this is the point where we no longer succeed in keeping our serious looks and all of us burst into laugh. Lady feels slightly offended and doesn’t understand what is so funny. It really is weird, but many people walk around the streets with birds cages in their hands. Just like you see people walking dogs in our country, here you find people carrying bird cages.

As the time differences in the general classification are prettey big by now, only riders aspiring for a TT victory or for a change in overall classification ride at their best potential. Since I have no chance neither to win the TT, nor to rocket myself to the Top 10 overall, I lend my TT handlebars to Rene Bunik. He set himself this interesting goal of finishing in top 50. Well, we all have our personal goals, so why not Top 50 I guess. He comes in in the 50th position so goal accomplished. Yellow-jersey Martial Gene takes the TT victory and only proves himself once again. Our best rider, Daniel Korevaar arives in 34th position. I finish in top 3 in the reverse classification, 89th, what means I’m becoming pro in calculating the time gap to a winner a stage. I did save lot’s of energy during this TT though. Will definitelly need it tomorrow at the finish in grand boulevard in Cayenne. It’s the Champs Elysées of Guyane with thousands of spectators. I succeeded in coming in 6th place in this stage once and sincerely hope for a podium for me or one of my team members.

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