Sunday, September 14, 2008

Trial by Fire

So then Friday and Saturday I continued my DS training. Friday's stage into Jefferson City was another hot and muggy one. I went with Gianni to the feed zone, passed a musette to Roman and then hopped into Stefano's car while he took mine and went to the break, where Mugerli was in the mix. More bottles passed, and a rear wheel change. Guarnieri pulled over while I was in the passing lane and I ended up pulling over in front of him, to Gianfranco's dismay - POW! - his door hit Guarnieri's handlebar! Lesson learned - even when the rider stops quick, always pull in behind him even if you have to just stop in the road.

The run-in to Jeff City was a quick one. Nibali played out an attack but got quickly pulled back. Two Rabobank youngsters took 1st and 2nd. The winner is the son of Jean Paul Van Poppel. Stefano raced with him and said he went like a train.

For Saturday, we expected horrible rain from Ike, but it never showed up. I drove car 2 from the start and the break went halfway again. Mugerli was up front in a 12 man break, so again, we swapped cars. This time, Guarnieri was involved in a big crash on the left side of the road. The street was real wide and everyone pulled over to the left, so I followed suit. Guarnieri eventually went to the right side of the road and I was a bit blocked in. I was able to exit and get to Gianfranco after a wheel change, but another lesson learned... ALWAYS service on the right side of the road. After that, we serviced the bike and helped him back to the group... let's see if I get a fine. Read between the lines on that one!

On the run-in to the finish into St. Charles, the skied darkened and threatened the rain which still didn't come. I got a bit nervous watching from about ten cars back, hoping for a Chicchi sprint or a Nibali breakaway. My heart was pounding and I think I found a new best way to watch a race... in the caravan driving a support car! Finally, Cavendish took his third stage, and we have to wait until Sunday's circuit for our first.

Friday, September 12, 2008

DS for a day... or two

So the Tour of Missouri keeps rolling along. Wednesday's TT in Branson went well... Nibali in sixth, fifth overall. Roman not too far behind.

I got to drive the follow car for Chicchi. The course was great, with big carved out canyons, open roads in the wind, and big rolling hills. Of course, I did my usual 'avoid the deviation and drive through the finish' that I've become famous for. Hey - they didn't fine us and I didn't tear down the banners, so it couldn't be that drastic!

On Thursday, Stefano wanted me to drive the second team car (since we're short on people). When the break happened, we swapped cars. He went with the break and I took over in the peloton! Let's say it's nervous and very tight squeezing between the moto and the cars on your right. We fed and passed bottles a few times. Nibali, having missed the break, got his ear twisted quite a bit, but did come back and load up on water for the rest of the guys. Roman took over the white jersey in the end! Today we'll try for another stage, possibly with Roman - the finish is a killer!

Meantime, James our mechanic crashed in the parking lot and destroyed his knee!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tour of Missouri

So I'm here with the boys in the midwest, fulfilling whatever duties I can. So far, I've translated interviews, translated any and all questions they may have, passing my first musette, helping the mechanics, written race reports, etc.

Sunday, my parents came down from Iowa. I think they enjoyed seeing their first big bike race. We had a reception at Cycle City, a local retailer. The crowd was great and had a good time. I finally met Jackal and Blue... great guys. Funny thing about the internet. You can 'get to know' someone by their writing, and then stumble into them and feel like old friends.

Monday we had the worst storm ever... 4 o'clock in the morning while doing emails, the sky opened up with a loud crash. It was like someone shooting a shotgun in the next room over! This continued until the power shut down for most of the city! It was quite a scene having all the teams eating breakfast by candlelight in the Hyatt!

Nephew Joey skipped work Monday afternoon to come down to the finish at KC's Plaza. The crowd was huge and the rain held out. Chicchi was third with Cavendish winning.

Tuesday was pretty much more of the same - Chicchi again third in Springfield. 

I met Cub and the Great Chiweenie... cute little dog rescued by loving owners who take him along on the bike. I know Mrs. Masini would like to do the same, but I can already tell, our guys would be more than a handful than this little guy.

Today is the TT. Nibali should do pretty well. Roman says his legs aren't great, but he has the power and will do well nonetheless.