Giro d'Italia, Grand Tour

Italy, May 16-June 7, 1998

Marcel Wust - Love, Pain and the whole dammed thing

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Marcel Wust Reporting from his Bike

Marcel who is riding for Festina in this year's Giro will send daily news from the Giro. He says it how he sees it and so you will get an unedited version of the race from his bike.

Expect him to be up when the sprints are on and not so up when the hills start.

Whatever, it will be a lot of fun.

Prologue, Nice ITT, 6 kms:

So...only 3861kms left.

Actually prologues are not too bad...they hurt for a short time only, and if you are lucky and start at the beginning you can relax and watch the others suffer on TV!! That is what I'm doing right now while I am typing this.

Just watching Baronti from CANTINA TOLLO...he pedals like some fat guy with his knees sticking out to both sides...but I only beat him by 5 sec.... the bad news for us was that Alex punctured during his warm up...15km on the rim to come back.

He will be starting right now and I hope he'll kick some butt.

It was a nice scenery down on the beach in Nice but not really heaps of people.

Good news hotel wise...after we've been in shit places last year, this year Bruno asked to be with SAECO all the Giro...because the italians would never put Cipollini and Gotti in places with less than 4 stars!!!

Right now it's official - ALEX in ROSA....nice start and a big morale boost for all of us!!

more tomorrow

Stage 1, Nice- Cuneo, 159 kms:

Here we are only 3700km to go. The ride from Nice to Cuneo was everything but a nice one!! to start with we had to go up the "grande corniche" (as the locals know it!) - an 8km climb... started 50m behind the km zero sign.

The most popular rider of the day: VATTERONI of Scrigno who thought it might be a good idea to attack right there.

result: his sprinter Mirko rossato got dropped...but he was not Robinson Crusoe...myself and a bunch of 50 riders including ALL sprinters were of the back as well. The only difference was that we came back in the downhill...but not Rossato, he was 30min down at the finish and was eliminated because today's time cut was 23min.

Festina set the pace up the Cat 2 climb of Colle di Tenda (1329m) behind a break of 3...they got caught...bunch sprint with a crash 1300m to go (no harm). No legs for me and a nice win for Piccoli. Alex still in pink.

Now the inside stuff: Cipo rode stars and stripes Spinergys...if you look at them for too long at 50 kph you feel like getting hypnotized. Another little thing: He and Gotti have their numbers printed right on the jersey, courtesy of Cannondale clothing so no messing round with safety pins in the morning. I just wonder what they do with their spare 3 mins every morning, probably cipo spends it in the bathroom to put more aftershave on (he is still the one I can't stand to smell) and uses twice as much gel to fix his lion hair...Gotti should use it to have at least a mars bar extra a day...too skinny!!

Nice hotel again today, makes recovering easier, good food, but that is kind of normal in Italy. I got my single room today and a king size bed...luckily I have 4 pillows to cuddle...

thats what I'll do right now after sending this of...take care until tomorrow :-)

Stage 2, Alba - Imperia, 160 kms:

ciao from the riviera,

3560km to go.

The good news: after it rained all night but this morning we had bright blue sky and about 25*C...perfect conditions.

the bad news: not really bad though, but after the stage we had a transfer of 150km. It took almost 2 hours with traffic jams and stuff, so we made it to the hotel just before 8pm!!

The race was no worries, we rode in the front a bit, then 3 guys attacked and we decided to let them go... Cantina Tollo chased them down :-). On a 6km climb with 50km to go there were attacks all over the place and a big bunch got spat out the back...all my usual friends were there, and a few others...and me!!!

So on day 2 we had the first grupetto of the giro...and for sure not the last.

Alex could not lose the pink jersey (again!!)...we would not mind to get rid of it to preserve a bit of power and not being obliged to chase every day, 'cause 3 weeks is pretty long!

Edo(kelme) won the power-sprint of the 90 guys left in the front after climbing "capo berta" at 4km from the finish.

I tried to save some legs for tomorrow...hard hills early in the stage, then all flat and a nice sprint finish...just where Cipo lives. he'll be hard to beat, but why not!!

Have a thought for me round 4:45pm.

see ya

The photo of Marcel (that you can access above) is from Stage 7 of last year's Giro and the guy on his wheel who runs 2nd is Rossato, the one who got eliminated by his teammates yesterday!!

[Bill: And as well as having to buy Marcel a beer I also have to put his advertising in!!! :-)]

Festina Site       Team Doctor's Site

Stage 3, Rapallo - Forte dei Marmi, 196 kms:

so...3346km left.

we got rid of the pink, finally. actually it did not happen the way we wanted. a crash 1.5km to go split the bunch and Alex lost about 15 sec. Still it was lucky he was behind the crash, and not in it. So from on now the team can relax a bit and does not have to ride in the front all day. Not much happened in the stage, after we averaged 27kph in the first 90min, we made it up to 41 at the Giro finish as usual.

Because Cipo was in the crash as well, the whole "Saeco" lead out sat up at 1km to go...a bit unexpected for most (me too!!), so there were "Riso Scotti" taking over on the left and all the ones on the right got flicked (me too!!). Minali took it, good on him!

For me it was the first day of this Giro that I felt good, especially at the end. I have just got over some stomach bug which about 25 other riders had too (or still have it).

Today's stage finished where we had last year's rest day... right on the beach, and tomorrow we'll ride along the ocean all day (240km!!). Should be nice, but we gotta be aware of this crashes when half the bunch will check out the topless female fans on the side of the road :-)

take care

PS: my tip for tomorrow is bartoli who would take pink if he wins. The hill we climb twice at the end is only 4km from the finish...but remember: if you put money on him, it's on your own risk!!

Stage 4, Viareggio - Monte Argentario, 239 kms:

Before I talk about today's stage I want you to know the efforts outside the race I had to do yesterday. My swiss knife and me - we spent about a half an hour unscrewing the phone, then ripping the cable out of the wall, cutting this same cable, connecting it with my custom pre cut cable and put it in my computer...just to realize that the dialing modus here is half pulse/half tone (never seen that before!!) and that it would not work. so the next half hour I spent doing the same stuff but reverse...there is a bit of a noise in the line now when you use the phone...but it works. Finally I convinced the reception people to let me use the front desk phone to connect me and send yesterday's report on the road......THANKS...they were really helpful.

About the race now: 3107km left

We had 210km flat and a finishing cirquit with a hill (2x15km) too hard for me and most of the sprinters...Miceli attacked about one km to go out of the remains of the bunch and took it with 3sec ahead of the rest.

We started off real easy, going through Tuscany at 30kph stopping 3 times on different buffets prepared by the fan clubs of the local riders, eating cake and icecream, drinking coke and was fabulous, like back in "the old times" (I rode my first giro in 1990). These are the days you really appreciate your job...but I wonder what tomorrow brings, probably attacking from the gun, going "balls out" all day and finishing completly stuffed!

My tip for today (Bartoli) was in a break with Pantani just before the finish and got caught... ...told ya: "own risk"

To finish with: looking at the phone and plug in my room it looks like I've gotta do another cutting and screwing session, but I'll check the reception BEFORE this time!!

take care

[Bill: Marcel is in training for his next career - a Rock and Roll star. He is developing essential skills like hotel room trashing.]

Stage 5, Orbetello - Frascati, 206 kms:

lots happening today...

I'll tell it step by step:

First, it went according to my prediction of took only 350m and they attacked "balls out" and the highest average reached 54.01kph after 20min. after that we took it easy until the "intergiro" some intermediate sprint where we always go as fast as in the stage finishes. With the time bonus Bartoli finally took the pink of Gontchar, and the whole Asics team chased everybody down until the end.

Really bad news for us: Jose Ramon Uriarte crashed and had to quit with a broken elbow. So we are down to 8 riders now and we'll definitely miss him in the flat stages. From here we wish you all the best Joserra...get well soon.

His crashing out has made an important change in team tactics and my role in the team. From on today I'll be the "road captain" in the flat stages and be around Alex all day, move him up through the bunch and get him out of the wind as much as possible. Bruno took this decision because he reckons I'm the most experienced guy on the team and because Alex trusts me a lot because of the way I move in the bunch. So for me personally this is a great satisfaction, even if this means that I'll have to work and not sit on the wheels all day and wait for the sprint. I'd rather make it to Milano with Alex in pink on my wheel, than to be going to win a stage and stop halfway... is pro and work is work, easy no??

Back to the race...the few sprinters making it over the last (and only) hill of the day were the ones who finished in the top five...with win # 105 for Cipo. as I'm typing this I sit in our team bus because we have another massive transfer - 220km. But we are looked after pretty good...had a shower in here, then freshly cooked spaghetti and all the comfort you need to relax...and we are fast, we just past the TVM and SAECO buses...(as fast as a climber passes me on l'Alpe d'Huez). We got a special permit and the bus does 150kph max (I'm not joking!!)

Tomorrow is the first top of the mounain finish...I hope alex wins without taking the jersey...I'll try to get in the grupetto with all the other sprinters and make the time cut.

That is all for now, take care and don't expect as much writing everyday...just had lots of time during this tranfers and after flat stages I'm not as tired as in the mountains :-)

until tomorrow

Stage 6, Maddaloni - Lago Laceno, 158 kms:

Well this is one of the days you don't get much writing...HOT, HARD and HILLS!!!

A few sprinters stopped, we made it inside the time cut (big group of 45) and here we have it again...this pink jersey we were trying to get rid of in the first days. Alex rode them off the wheel in the last climb...this means that tomorrow we are up to the front and work...its only 240km through the mountains of central Italy, HOT, HARD and HILLS.

After tomorrow's stage there will be some sprint finishes up, so the teams of the sprinters will be interested in chasing at the end...good for us. I reckon we should just get rid of that pink thing again, but it looks like for us it is easier to take it than to loose it.

The only laugh on today's stage: we were in the back of the grupetto talking, cipo and me, and some guy had a coke...he said "gimme some" and that guy spilled it right over Cipo...what a bastard!!

ready for my short night...until tomorrow

Stage 7, Montella - Matera, 238 kms:

Dunno how many km to go...give you the update tomorrow, cause the last days did not leave much motivation for any calculations...

240km, not one flat. the bunch was like a rolling cemetery today...everyone was dead!!

No one felt like attacking and it wasn't me complaining about it. We rode a real slow train in the front for a while, but when we realized everybody was happy to go slow we just sat back in the wheels. The name shouted the most today was "castellano...something" - the Giro organizer who found all these hills for us today was the least popular today and son of a bitch one of the nicest surnames we found for him!! Francesco Moser got his shit one of those responsible for the Giro

Typical comment: "When Moser was riding they brought snow in trucks on the top of the hills so the stages had to be cancelled...and now this s.o.a.b..." etc.

At 80km to go we had to set the pace again for a bit, and hitting the last hill 8km to go I was more then happy to finally sit up and cruise in with the grupetto.

The only thing which was harder than the stage profile today, were my legs... least tonight my bed feels like a bed and not like this thing yesterday which was more like the workplace of the oldest Italian hooker using it since she started her job!!

have a nice nite...I will

PS: good onyer Cipo, I've seen him lots of times...but never as strong as he was today!!

Stage 8, Matera - Lecce, 191 kms:

on the road again... we have the last LONG transfer for a while. 350km to go from today's stage finish in Lecce up north to Foccia where we start tomorrow.

Today we took off easy (again) until the feed zone where the attacking started. So I had time to go back to our team car at 2:30pm to watch the start of the formula 1 grand prix in monaco live on Bruno's little TV set in the car.

The working day started with this attack just before the feed zone (nice guys!!). 8 went away and 6 of us (Jeker, Meier, Kivilev, Boscardin, Garcia-casas and myself) started driving through a big crosswind with Alex and Belli on the wheels. Lots of attacks and team tactics in the last was hard to control but other teams had the same interest and gave us a bit of a hand (thanks Mapei!!) while Pantani and his Mercatone guys had to go flat out for about 25km to make it back :-)

Looking out of the front window now I just saw our bus passing all the cars in the traffic jam we just hit...on the emergency stopping lane!!! lucky we have Roberto (torres) who is the best and craziest bus driver on this planet. I'll be happy to go north again, southern Italy is more like Africa than anything else... the morning when you go to the start they steal your bidons, rob your hat, pinch your heart rate monitor....and anything they can get. OK, here there are always heaps of spectators, but this is because no one works.

The freeway we're on, does not deserve this name...probably in a few years when they finish reparing it with the money they get from the Europeen community (with the way they work here I should say in a few decades!!)

So my role as a sprinter on the team has changed...but I could not imagine how satisfying it is to be responsible for the big leader, and look after him all day. And Heike (my wife) is happy too because she does not have to worry about me going flat out - all risk in the stage finishes.....much better this way because not as much stress which is no good for the baby :-)

more tomorrow - take care