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Giro d’Italia 2002 – Stage 2, Koln – Ans/Liege
By Tyler Hamilton, CSC-Tiscali professional cycling team
After two days of feeling like luck wasn’t on my side, things startedto come together a little bit today.I was a bit concerned about being in the right position going into thefinal climb before the finish. Having just competed on the same roads forLiege-Bastogne-Liege three weeks ago, I knew what to expect in the final20 kilometers of the course. But the critical difference today, would bethat the entire field would probably still be together going into the finalstretch.Heading downhill on a four-lane highway with a full peloton of 196 guys,going 100 kilometers per hour definitely tests your nerve. I had my workcut out for me if I wanted to start the climb at the front.Initially, I was not part of the final group of eight that got awayon the climb and had to chase them to catch on. It seemed as though thegroup might stay away, but we slowed down going into the final meters tothe finish. A bit of cat and mouse started with everyone looking at oneanother waiting to see if there would be an attack. The loss of momentumallowed the group behind to catch us pretty easily.I have to give my teammates a lot of credit for today. They did an
outstanding job of looking after me throughout the stage that ultimatelyled to my being able to finish in the top 10.The Lottery
It was a shame to see a guy like Michele Bartoli have to abandon yesterday. Especially since he came into this race with great form. The first few days of a big tour are always nerve wracking with guys taking chances left and right to prove themselves.
Yesterday was complicated by the fact that there were a number of roundabouts and islands to be on the look out for. When you are in the middle of the pack you can’t always see what’s in the road in front of you, and that’s how some accidents happen. That’s also why you hear guys saying that part of racing is virtually a “lottery”.
That said, the pile up in the final two kilometers was a bit of a surprisegiven that it was up at the front of the peloton.
I tend to ride at the back of the bunch on days that are meant to bedueled out in a sprint. But after losing a little time in the prologueI figured that was too dangerous a proposition. Chances of a crash arealways greater in the back so everyone always tells me – “stay up frontand out of trouble.”
So there I was, in the best position I’ve ever been in going into astage 1 finish with a full field of riders, and wouldn’t you know the scenario would change. Luckily I didn’t go down. But an awful lot of guys did and it was tough to get through all the chaos. Simoni was right next to mewhen the crash happened. He got through. I got caught up. Like I said,sometimes racing is a lottery.
Pile ups of this size sound bad and look awful. The bikes and bodiesstrewn all over the road are practically lost in a swarm of mechanics and team cars hauling wheels and spare bikes around to the unlucky victims. There’s a lot of stress filled shouting and frustration. Whether you godown or not, you can’t help but ride away from one of these situationsa little rattled.
Thanks for reading.
Editor’s Note:Tyler Hamilton is sending diary entries to VeloNews.com every otherday throughout the 2002 Giro d’Italia. Click below for his earlier entries.The Prologue: Noworse for wear