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Stage 13 Chieti – San Giacomo (Monti della Laga) 188 Km
By Tyler Hamilton, CSC-Tiscali professional cycling team
We knew today was going to be a difficult day and it didn’t disappoint.I was able to preview the stage in March, and realized then that thesecond to last climb was tougher in reality than it looked on paper. Ourteam strategy for the day hinged mostly on this knowledge. We deliberatelysent a group of riders to the front to work the pace pretty hard when wereached this climb.We hoped the effort would wear out some of the competition a littlebit. Our mission was to send them into tomorrow’s stage feeling a littlemore fatigued than they may have hoped they would. Considering our goal,the team rode an amazing stage today. They were all strong and ralliedat the front starting with a lightening fast descent into the second tolast climb.I’m certain they were big contributors toward how the stage eventuallyplayed out. It was good to see everyone working so well together. Thisis a special group of guys. The descent down to the finishing climb wasa little treacherous because there was a lot of sand on the road. The pelotonslowed considerably to safely maneuver the turns. Michael was at the frontof the group at the top and basically dive-bombed the ride down. He wasgoing so much faster than the rest of us he and one other rider from Telekomwere able to open up a pretty good gap. He was slowed up with some kneepain on the final climb though. But hopefully our physical therapist Olewill be able to take care of him.I cannot say enough amazing things about Carlos Sastre. Not only ishe a great guy, he’s an incredibly talented rider. He’s done so much forme in this race already – he’s gave me a bike when I crashed in stage 5,and helped to the finish of stage 11 after I cracked. He’s been a savior.It’s an honor to be supported by such a high caliber rider. He’s superstrong and I’m lucky to have him on my side.With six kilometers to go, there were a lot of attacks, the speeds ofwhich — combined with the effort we put in on the previous climb — caughtup with me a little bit and I came off the back of the lead group in thefinal kilometer. Even though I lost a little time, I think we accomplishedwhat we had hoped to today.HealingI’m pretty sure everyone is tired tonight. Someone recently asked mefor an injury update so here goes. My shoulder is still a little bit ofa problem. Ole and our team doctor think that there’s been some internaldamage done. Ole can feel a piece of something moving inside my shoulderwhen he rotates it. This means I may have what ever that is removed afterthe race. Keep your fingers crossed that if I do, it’s quick and painless.Subconsciously, I’m battling with the shoulder injury a little bit aswell. Bjarne has noticed that I’m not standing up on my bike while I’mclimbing – most notably in the final kilometers. He thinks I’m trying tofavor the shoulder by using only my legs for speed. I you see me rectifyingthat in the days to come you can bet it’s because I’m being reminded todo so over the race radio. But he has a point. You generate a lot of powerthrough your arms. And I haven’t been using them much in this race.The ribs are still sore but that’s normal. Generally they take aboutsix weeks to heal. The flesh wounds are mending up good. I’ll have my stitchesremoved from my back on Monday.The first time trial is tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it. It’s areally hard course, with a pretty good size hill in it near the start.In fact it’s pretty hilly the whole way around. You may see some ridersuse climbing bikes with aero bars. But I’ve opted to use a time trial bike.Thanks to all of youThe notes and sentiments you’ve all been sending via velonews.com andmy website are nothing short of humbling. Your heartfelt support and enthusiasmfor my efforts here in Italy are appreciated more than you know. I hopeI can do your generosity justice in the days ahead.Thanks for reading.
Editor’s Note:Tyler Hamilton is sending diary entries toVeloNews.com every other day throughout the 2002 Giro d’Italia. Click belowfor his earlier entries.The Prologue: Noworse for wearStage 2: Gettingon TrackStage 4: Charginginto StrasbourgStage 6: Troublecomes in threes… I hopeStage 8 Theroad to recoveryStage 9 Forza!Stage 11 NoExcusesCare to comment? Send ane-mail to our letters page.