One of the first questions I had planned to ask Swedish Liquigas pro and former Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt was, ‘how is morale in the squad?’ That would have been a tad silly though, because team-leader Danilo Di Luca was back looking like the man who won last season’s Amstel Gold and Fleche-Wallonne, not the man who we saw suffering like a dog in this year’s Giro.
Di Luca had just taken the stage into Bejar, leaving the likes of Valverde and Sastre in his wake, with the leader’s jersey as the icing on the cake.
Pez: So, it was a good day Magnus?
Magnus: Yeah, things are starting to turn our way at last. The start of the season wasn’t great for us with injuries and a lack of results but in the last month we’ve taken a stage in the Benelux Tour (Manuel Quinziato), the Grand Prix Plouay (Vincenzo Nibali) and now today Danilo taking the stage and the jersey.
It’s great, but it means a lot of hard work for us on the front tomorrow.
Pez:Dario Cioni says that Luca Paolini is going very well too.
Magnus:Yes, he’s really found his legs in the last month and it won’t be a surprise if he wins a stage, maybe on Thursday. The only negative is that we lost Charly Wegelius today, he crashed at around 20 K and landed heavily on his head, he got back on and rode to half distance but he was feeling nauseous and it wasn’t sensible to continue.
Liquigas had their work cut out on Stage 6 – always near the front protecting race leader Di Luca. Can you spot Maggy in there?
Pez:On a happier note, how was the celebratory champers?
Magnus:It was good wine; the Italians take a pride in things like that.
Pez:When I rang at 10.00 pm (Spanish time) you were still at dinner, surely that’s later than you would like?
Magnus:The Vuelta is a nice race but it’s just like that; there are long transfers after the stage, then by the time you have massage you are eating late, but that’s just the way it is in Spain.
Pez:Sometimes the Vuelta doesn’t have the best name for hotels and food.
Magnus:We’ve been very lucky with our hotels, with one exception they have all been good, four and five stars with nice food. The first place we stayed in was a country club too, it was really nice.
Pez:How is your form Magnus?
Magnus:I feel I have good legs and engine, but it’s just been too hot for my system. It’s been as hot as 45 degrees, even at 2,000 metres it was 34 degrees today. Temperatures like that make it very difficult to eat enough in long stages because your stomach is bagged-up with liquids. You have to drink virtually all the time when it’s as hot as that. It also means that there’s a lot less oxygen around, you feel the effect of any big effort immediately and can’t sustain it. I’m hoping it’s going to get cooler as we move north.
Maggy gets ready for a day defending on stage 6.
Pez:Is Liquigas going to defend the jersey?
Magnus:Danilo is going very well and we are going to treat the jersey with the respect it deserves, it’s a flat stage tomorrow then we’re back into the mountains so we’ll need to see how it goes.
Stay tuned for more from Magnus throughout la Vuelta – .