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By Tyler Hamilton, CSC-Tiscali cycling team
My apologies for the delayed recap of stage 5. I got a little bangedup yesterday and was busy for most of the evening getting some much neededattention to my many wounded body parts.Yesterday was shaping up to be an ideal stage for me. Coming over the first climb, which was as steep as a wall, I was right along side the riders I thought I ought to be; Casagrande, Simoni and Garzelli.Then the unimaginable happened on the descent.I had a mechanical failure in my rear wheel and I found myself sailingtoward the ground like a missile. I was literally thinking to myself”this can’t be happening” as I was diving toward the pavement.
It turns out the pins that connected the freewheel to the hub of myrear wheel came apart. The effect of having something like this happenwhile gunning down a decent is very similar to breaking a chain mid-sprint. As I stood up to pick up speed going through a turn the cassette brokefree from the wheel. I basically launched myself over the bars andinto the air. If Carlos Sastre hadn’t been there to give me his bikeafter the crash, I probably wouldn’t have seen first group again.
I can’t imagine what the crash looked like, nor do I really care tosee a replay of it – but the bodily repercussions are nothing short ofdumbfounding.
Here’s the inventory: A shin hematoma; two scraped knees; two hacked up hips; a missing chunk from my lower back (that’s been stitched closed); road rash down the rest of my back; a banged up elbow; some very sore ribs and last but not least, a shoulder injury which could be a cracked rotator cuff or a torn tendon.
The shoulder is pretty much the worst of it. It’s really toughto stand up on the bike or pull up on the handlebars. I can raisemy arm in a forward motion, but if I had to enter a funky chicken contesttonight, I’d probably be the hands down loser.Hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of the injury by tomorrow. Withnearly 200 kilometers of transfer to our hotel after the finish, therewasn’t time for an x-ray tonight.Is this it, now?I was trying to stay upbeat this morning. My wife had said tome yesterday that bad things happen in threes. The way she figuredit, I had crashed twice and been caught behind another crash once, so thatadded up to three not so good things. Andrea Peron was listeningto this logic and was the first to let her know after the finish that herthinking was a little bogus.
The way he figured it, she jinxed me into crashing for a third timetoday. He was kidding of course. Honestly race fans, this is gettinga little ridiculous.But this is my calling as of late. Today’s stage started out inthe pouring rain. Twenty kilometers in, ten guys slipped on some oil onthe road in the middle of a turn. They all hit the floor in frontof me.I had two options: bunny hop ten guys, or lay it down. In my condition,the second option was really the only option. Luckily I made a bitof a softer landing today than yesterday, but I did go down on my leftside – which the side I banged up in the prologue and is also where theshoulder injury is. It felt like someone stabbed a knife into myshoulder. For the next 50 kilometers I was in excruciating pain. You could say today was one of those days that I had to ask myself whyand how I do what I do.The rallying cry came from my teammates though – who have been ridingincredibly well for this entire race so far. But today they wereexceptional. While I was cringing and losing contact with the pelotonthey were talking me through the pain and pulling me back into range. They are a supportive bunch to say the least.It’s hard to go from riding so well to feeling so awful in a single24 hour period. But that’s what’s happened to me. Usually youfocus on grand tours in segments like week by week. I’ve officiallygraduated to day-by-day status. But one thing is for certain, I’mnot going down without a fight.When you have a team like I do supporting you, you owe it to them toleave everything you have out on the road. So, stay tuned. I may not have much skin left on my body, but the legs are still good. It’s just going to be a matter of getting the rest of my parts to do theirpart.In a note of good news – Micheal Sanstod won the opening stage of Tourof Picarde yesterday and continues to lead the race. CSC-Tiscalihas three riders in the top six. Not too shabby.It was difficult to hear the news of Garzelli’s case with the dopingcommission this morning. While it’s good to see the crack down ondoping happening, it’s also difficult to see a fellow racer in a predicamentlike his. Since B samples are not due back until Tuesday, he is going tohave a tough go of it mentally, I’m sure, over the next few days. But his team is standing behind him and he is continuing to race at theirinsistence.I hope for his sake, his team’s sake and the for the sake of the Giroand cycling worldwide, all is cleared up and forgotten by early next week.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 StrasbourgCare to comment? Send ane-mail to our letters page.