Boem goes bust

Giro d’Italia: Stage 8 – Molfetta to Peschici (189km)

Your half way up a punishing climb, racing hard to stay ahead of the chasing peloton. The sun is scorching your skin, and the salt from all your sweat means your aero suit has started to disintegrate. Your Director Sportive pulls alongside, and from behind the wheel of the air-conditioned team car, hands you a bottle.

What is it exactly that makes you throw that bottle away even before taking a sip?

This was the question Nicolas Boem of Bardiani left us with yesterday, who, at the foot of the Coppa del Fomaro, was transformed into a thirsty and belligerent litterbug.

He wasn’t the only rider to lose his bottle on Stage 8 of the Giro between Molfetta and Peschici. When the break found themselves cut off from their team cars they went waterless for about 15 kilometers before the race re-organised, and race organisers were spared the embarrassing scene of a dozen or so breakaway riders turning to dust.

But while the drought eventually eased for some, evidently it became too much of a good thing for others.

You can understand why the Bardiani team might have been under pressure these past ten days, and prone to losing their temper a little bit. Two of their riders were thrown out before racing had begun for positive dope tests, and while they’d been in plenty of breaks, they’d had nothing to show for it except cramp and sharper tan-lines.

Boem had been among the super-break for much of the day, only dropped after a long hard slog. He needed something or someone on which to take out his frustration. Bottles were perhaps one choice.

It’s not a new phenomenon. Back in the Brabantse-Pijl, Tiesj Benoot had grabbed a bottle from a soigneur only to throw it away immediately. Here though Boem had plenty of time to consider its contents.

The DS handed it to him. Boem looked at it, and with the same disgust as Benoot, sent it flying towards the undergrowth, lobbing it away like it might go off, rather than simply handing it back.

The DS, by now wondering if he might have lost some of his authority on this team, handed him another. Boem reacted in the same way, this one following the one before into a ditch almost immediately. The third bottle found seemed more pleasing to Boem, who slotted it into his bottle cage.

What is it about these bottles, passed out at crucial moments, in blistering heat, on vertical gradients, that make riders so picky? Perhaps it’s heat exhaustion, or the only act of protest about the crippling conditions.

Or maybe these bottles were empty, and just very, very sticky?

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