The Trofeo Laigueglia was our first „real“ race this season. With riders like Ivan Basso, Damiano Cunego, Daniele Pietropolli, „Mr. Broken Collarbone“ Filippo Pozzatto and lots of other Pro Tour and Pro Continental riders, it was probably my race with the most nameable riders so far.
We started out with a good speed and tailwind. After about 20 kilometers, the group with about 6 riders was set. The big bosses like Pozzatto and Basso went to the front of the pelloton with their teammates and everybody knew the first act of the play was successfully finished. At kilometer thirty we entered the first climb which was about 10km long and took us like one hour. We were going so slow that several riders including me stopped for a leak and hadn’t had any problems to come back tot he peloton again.
After this never ending climb, Liquigas started to pull a litte bit on the front and we reached Testico the mountain which was to climb three times now, with a gap of about 12 minutes. We were doing a good speed with Liquigas inthe front and full of effort we started the descent. My team and i knew that this was really dangerous. Luckily we were training there the day before the race. Narrow roads, slippery surface because oft he olive trees and lots of 180 degree turns and turn combinations. End oft he story, the Leopards survived. But I do not now about some other riders.
I felt good so far – obviously – it was not really fast so far. Everybody in the pelloton knew that the race would start when we reach the Testico the second time. 20km tot he climb the riders were starting to get nervouse again. The fight about the positions (191 riders in the field) was opened. I again felt comfortable in doing the position seeking but than a bumper on the street came and like it occurs sometimes in Italy, some parts of it were broken but I guess it was a little screw which was still at the place were the bumper part was came into my lane... Hmm, worst point to have a puncture. 5k’s to the climb and we drew the car number 23 of 29... After endless waiting finally Adriano came. We put in a new back wheel and started the pursuit of the peloton. I was riding behind the car but felt like I had perfect frontwind... My break was bent sideways a little bit so it was bevelling on the wheel. I recognized it and fixed it. After reaching the peloton again i had like one minute recovery and than the second time Testico started. I was still able to make it without problems in the peloton but I felt some starting fatigue. After the dangerouse descent again the peloton started to become really nervouse. Astana had enough. 3 Minutes tot he breakaway and 25 k’s to the final climb – guess which one – so they started to substitute Liquigas and pulled from the front with enormouse speed.
We reached Testico and I knew my time was over.
At this early point of the season a race with 200km, a line-up like this and some bad luck with a puncture was just to much for me. I did the climb at my speed with the goal to still have a good training in the red. My group passed a lot of riders and sadly also some Leopards.
End of the race was Alexander finishing in the first group on a strong maybe 20th place and all of us other guys in the „first-gruppetto“ with 10-15 minutes delay at around place 80. Unfortunately our Luxembourgish talent Bob – who also was in the first group with Alex – got a really bad stomach ache. And we passed him 10k’s before the finish line. Get well soon!