Tour of Holland
Day 4: 113km, 2 sprints
September 8, 1999
Petra won yesterday after being right by me with 5km to go, putting her in
the leaders jersey by a few seconds. Today, she won again, increasing the
lead somewhat. She does this by being an incredible sprinter for sure. And,
also by being an incredible team leader, directing her team the way she needs
and inspiring them to want to do just that. She is also amazing at working
her way through the field with no wasted effort.
Today was much like the last few days - fast and furious. I failed to
mention what the roads have been like. 90% are one-lane width roads - cow
paths, hiking trails, or farm roads. We make turns every few kilometer,
today being particularly twisty. We all come to almost complete stops at
every corner, then jump out of them. Most of the corners are filled with
sand and gravel, causing the slowing. It is also often very unclear which
way we are going and what the conditions of the roads will be up ahead.
There are also blockades in the roads, speed bumps, divisions and medians.
The slowing is greater at the back of the pack and still significant in the
front. No avoiding the sprint training. It finally occurred to me that the
racing feels lots like a 70-mile criterium.
In today's race, we saw a few blips in the road. The two sprints were even
on the top of one of these little rises (we did little loops halfway through
the race), causing the flat -landers to drop off a bit. As the group splits
up it is important to be up front because, while the wind is not blowing in
full Holland style, it is blowing. Plus, the pace is high. (We're averaging
25 miles per hour even with all the corners.) If you space out too much you
can end up with a giant gap opening up ahead of you, requiring some
tremendous speed to close. Kerry, around the 2nd sprint, ended up behind one
of these gaps. She and her group could see the field and knew she'd catch.
Then all of a sudden we weren't in sight. It turns out they had been
directed in the wrong direction along with the caravan following them. They
ended up never catching back on and were stopped when they got to the three
4km finishing loops we did through town.
Kim, usually a mountain biker, got her second flat of this race today. She
is learning how to ride at the back of the field until the team car gets
there for the wheel change after being yelled at excessively by Longo at the
Tour de France, which she rode with them.
We started at 1pm (finally a normal hour) and were home and eating by 6:30.
What a relief. Tomorrow another early start.