Team Vitesse continues to prepare for the World Championships in Switzerland with regular weekend training rides. This past Sunday, the team gathered in anticipation of their planned paliopy practice procedures. Senor Merlini (S&M), a new recruit, attended at the behest of h20 and the approval of Johan. Resplendent in their uncoordinated jerseys, it soon became obvious that K2nees had forgotten his cycling shoes. Disappointment rippled through the remaining members as hope for a paliopy practice perished. K2 set out for his personal cosmodrome with a vow to meet the peleton somewhere on the road.
h20, S&M and that day's protected rider, Lampo Bianco, set a furious pace for the opening 500 meters. Massive crowds greeted them along the route. As they crested a catagory 1 col, the sound and smell of the clamorous fans grew to a fever pitch and odor. h20 was setting an infernal tempo at the front. One fan ran out seeking an autograph from LB. It was then that the much maligned Team Vitesse teamwork came to the fore.
Known for their incessant internal attacks, Team Vitesse has received undue criticism for being individuals on a team looking after their own interests. "I acted on instinct!" said h20 in television interviews later. Review of the race footage clearly shows the course of events.
As the fan was about to reach LB and hinder his forward progress, h20 sacrificed his body, GC placement and his bicycle to block the fan and protect LB. h20 found himself down on the tarmac with extreme road rash, a deep muscle bruise on the upper thigh, torn ligaments, arthritis, liver damage and most importantly, a damaged front brake lever. S&M quickly dismounted to assist his fallen comrade while LB put in a few choice punches and words into the seething crowd. Team Vitesse riders were far ahead of the support vehicles so any reparations were up to the quick thinking trio. Shaken but unstirred after the shock of the fall, h20 quickly mounted and, true to Team Vitesse form, quickly got a gap on his fellow team mates.
The ride continued without incident but K2 was never seen again that day. It has come to light that his valiant attempts to catch the splintered Vitesse peleton resulted in a coughed up lung.
Lampo Bianco won the day with the strong finishing Senor Merlini leading LB out to the final climb. h20 suffered immensely but managed a credible third. Despite his serious injuries, he defended his downhill sprint jersey with aplomb. The offending fan remains in hospital with a genuine LB signature on his body cast.