Thursday 14 December 2017

'All the guys could hear me cursing from the next room'

Sam Bennett signs his Giro sticker for two young fans on yesterday’s rest day in Bergamo.
Sam Bennett signs his Giro sticker for two young fans on yesterday’s rest day in Bergamo.

Sam Bennett Giro d'Italia Diary

Monday May 22, Rest day: Bergamo

After two weeks of racing, it's amazing how much little things can annoy you when you're tired.

One of the things that has started to grind on me on this Giro is the seemingly endless ways to turn on and off an Italian shower.

Every room, in every hotel, seems to have a different way of getting the water flowing and the temperature right and it's been like a never ending game of Boppit - pushing buttons, twisting nozzles, flipping dials and twiddling knobs in an effort to get a decent shower.

Today's post-ride scrub took the biscuit though when the shower door fell in on top of me mid-way through.

Covered in suds and water and with the weight of a glass door in both hands, I spent the next two or three minutes effing and blinding under barely warm water while trying to stay upright in an effort to get the door back on before I broke my neck.

In temper, I slotted the door on, immediately flung it open and then tripped over the threshold out into the bathroom, where I did a bad impression of Tom Cruise in Risky Business and slid naked all the way across the floor before coming to a halt when my foot got caught in a towel and my shin connected with the bidet on the far side of the room.

Lukas Postlberger wasn't in the room at the time but all the other guys could hear me cursing from the next room and thought it was the funniest thing ever.

At least Lukas and I, and most of my team-mates have a normal room in this hotel, unlike a couple of our soigneurs, who are based two stories down, below the restaurant.

Away from prying eyes, they have a room complete with mirrored ceiling, remote control mood lighting and a strategically placed stripper's pole.

Being pretty straight-laced Germans, the guys are so embarrassed about it, but I think it's hilarious, especially as it's the room where half of the lads had to go for their massage this afternoon.

 

ORIENTAL

I don't think the mirrors on the ceiling were designed for that. Apparently there are another two rooms with a similar vibe; the dark room, which apparently has a swing in it, and the oriental room.

I don't know what the oriental room is all about but I doubt you'd get a decent chicken curry in it.

Although we had a day off today, I got ready for training a bit earlier this morning because I wanted to get my bike gearing set up for tomorrow and be able to have a spin on it to check everything worked properly ahead of a monster mountain stage.

Because I was sick in the opening week, I didn't make much effort on the previous two rest day rides but today I had to make sure my body knew it was still in a race.

Some guys wanted to go easy and some guys wanted to go hard this morning so my team-mates and I split up a little on the ride.

From past experience, I know that if you get this far into a stage race and have a break when you're this tired, you can start to shut down on the rest day.

Last year at the Tour de France in Andorra, I didn't do any efforts on the rest day and really paid for it on the 22km uphill start the next day.

With a similarly savage day coming tomorrow, I wasn't taking any risks today and having gone out with Lukas, Patrick Konrad and Gregor Mühlberger, who had Austrian TV with them, I made my efforts while they were doing their media stuff.

After warming up thoroughly, I did a few 30 second efforts at VO2 max with 30 second recovery between them just to wake my body up. After that I did a solid 10-minute tempo effort before we settled into an easier rhythm and stopped for coffee on the way back.

With three first-category climbs, including the highest peak of this Giro, on the menu, stage 16 is going to be the hardest stage by far.

Because second-placed Nairo Quintana probably needs to gain five minutes on race leader Tom Dumoulin over the next few days if he is to have any chance of holding him off in the final time trial, the Colombian climber is going to have to attack him on these mountain stages.

For the non-climbers like me, that's going to hurt. The worry is that the attacks will come very early in the 222km stage and the dropped riders will have a huge fight to finish inside the time limit.

Tomorrow is going to be all about survival. If I can get over tomorrow I'm laughing. Well, I'm not laughing, I'm f***ed... but I can start again the next day.

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