Saturday, September 5, 2009

Alas, la Vuelta!

After the late night Thursday, I finally got around and took the train up to Groningen. Groningen is about 30k away from Assen where the TT would be on Saturday.

I had emailed a few people about staying with them in Groningen and one responded saying she actually wanted to see the TT. Marielle picked me up from the train station and we went to buy groceries.

Then, we headed back to her place and I passed out on the couch.

We had planned on going to see the fireworks, celebrating a Dutch military victory from 1600-something, but it rained so we stayed in.

Saturday!

I woke up around 9 and began preparing myself mentally for the day ahead. We printed off the start list and headed out.

Marielle took me into downtown Groningen which was quite nice.



They had a nice market and lots of shops. Around 1 we headed to the train station. We locked our bikes up and got on a train to Assen.



At the Assen station there were buses waiting to take us to the start. There were also urinals waiting.



These are the outdoor urinals I was talking about. They also have them at festivals and stuff. In Gent they have permanent ones downtown that are stainless steel. It’s a bit odd peeing while people are around but one adjusts quickly.

We got on the bus and headed to the TT course.



The course was at a really nice race track. It was raining out when we got there and the covered bleachers were only open to people who had a pass. Eventually we found an unguarded entrance though.




Ah, my first grand tour. The action was still 30 minutes away so we sat discussing which Dutch rider had a chance.

Finally, the Festina cars came rolling in signaling the start was near.



The weather was pretty good for the first half or so and then it started to rain. That’s about the time we saw Barredo fall on the ramp. The ramp was slippery and it was only a matter of time. Apparently they held out on putting down a map because there were sponsors names on the ramp. Reminds me of that stage of the 2008 Giro where they had the slippery ads at the finish and people crashed.



About halfway through it started to get exciting. Oh wait, who’s this??


Towards the end the times started getting really good. Boonen posted a really good time but Cancellara hadn’t gone yet.

Finally, Cancellara went and blew everyone’s time away.

Here’s a cartoon with Cancellara.









As we were leaving I spotted these guys. They were a bit eerie because they looked like SS officers.



We finally got on a bus and headed back to the station. That night I went to my first Dutch party, or at least that’s what I called it although I just realized I went to a Dutch party in Utrecht. Well, there goes that. It was fun and I met some cool people. I got to ride on the back of a townie (Dutch bike) which felt very Dutch.

We got home around 3 and I fell fast asleep.

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