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Update from Tour de France stage six

July 10, 2009

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At least one of the cyclists in the Tour de France has ties to Lawrence.

Bingen Fernandez Bustinza, a 13-year Spanish pro who rides for the French Cofidis cycling team, is a regular offseason visitor to Lawrence. Last fall, for instance, he spent several weeks here visiting his girlfriend, Nikane Mallea.

He participated in some of the regular group rides of the Lawrence Bicycle Club and developed a bit of a following among local cyclists.

Fernandez has agreed to file regular blogs from this year’s Tour.

Stage six: a 112.8-mile trek from Gerona to Barcelona along the Mediterranean Sea featuring five small climbs.

Fernandez stage-six finish: 93rd.

Fernandez overall: 104th overall, 7:21 behind.

We began the day with our eyes on the skies. On the horizon there were heavy dark rain clouds — and the race radio was announcing rain in Barcelona. That was not good news, as the combination of rain and motor oil on the roads always made things dangerous. But we would worry about that later.

Our first concern was to get into the first breakaway — our director said we must. From kilometer zero, all the Cofidis riders, including myself, were attacking and leading forming breakaways. It wasn’t until kilometer 50 that a three-man breakaway successfully stayed away — and of course we had one of our riders in it.

Everything was perfect up until the last few kilometers when it started to rain (because nothing ever happens the way it should) and the road turned into an slippery rink. The peloton launched forward and around the wet turns and corners. The braking and crashes began soon after — even gentle braking was sending riders down everywhere at 50 km/h. There were riders and bikes down everywhere as if we were riding on ice. I came close to being caught up in three crashes in just the last 4 kms to the finish. The peloton was torn to pieces, and I was unable to finish in the first group.

— Bingen Fernandez Bustinza

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