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Cadel Evans' Giro d'Italia Diary 2002

The prologue and the last month

May 11, 2002

Grande Corse, Grande Squadra e...

Here I am, at the Giro. I have been laying low for while, on the diary entry front anyway. After my last little contribution, I got very wet and cold in Pays Basque; got some sun and kilometres in my legs at Fleche Wallone; made a little contribution to our one-two finish in Liege; then got very wet and very, very cold at Tour of Romandie.

Pays Basque was a hard and complicated race, with the Spaniards attacking left right and centre day after day in the rain and snow. I was happy to see a part of the world that I have not been to, though: green rolling forested hills, friendly people, good race organisation, even a few eucalyptus trees to make me feel at home. I only got to see the Guggenheim Museum from the outside, but even passing in the car is impressive. How much silver foil did they use when they made that?

My first experience of the Belgian Classics was a positive one. I arrived a bit tired and lacking in kilometres to hope to do much other than help the team and get an idea of the courses. Experience counts for a lot in the Classics. As they're run over similar courses year after year, and such selective races, it is important to know when to be at the front and when to take save some energy for the finale.

Liege-Bastogne-Liege was without a doubt Mapei's best performance of the year to date. First and second at a World Cup -- well if we can do better than this year we will be living a dream. It is a really nice race over 258km of narrow, undulating roads; the distance is what saps your legs. The Belgian fans, as always, make the atmosphere. Even when we rode LaRedoute, probably the hardest climb of the race (though it depends how your legs are) on the Thursday previous to race day, the Belgians were there cheering and taking photos of their favourite riders.

After the quick Belgian spell, I had the chance to catch up with some of the other Aussie Pros at a Commonwealth Games training camp in Italy. Stuey sounds like he is making positive progress after his unfortunate forced break. Scott Sunderland is well on the way back too. Graeme Brown is in good spirits as always, even if he does encourage me to drive too fast. It was nice to have a real Aussie barbeque after being way from Oz for so long.

Tour of Romandie was an important race for me. Being so close to my 'home away from home', and a suitable course, it was a race I was looking forward to more than usual. I do not mind the rain, but this!? It was the coldest I have ever been in my life, shivering so much that I could not ride in a straight line. Not pleasant. And on the way to what I was hoping to be a good stage for me, the hill top finish in Leysin, I got to momentarily experience what snow blindness is like. It hurts, and is scary when you are riding your bike as fast as you can.

I did manage to get warm for the last stage, the second of six where it was not raining and creep up to third on GC. Everyone seemed quite impressed. I was happy to do well at my home away from home race and finally put in a decent ITT ride before the Giro. It seemed like I could not get one right this year so I needed at least one good TT to reassure myself.

I've just watched the last few guys in the opening prologue of the Giro d'Italia. It is nice being at a big race, where it is possible to watch from the massage table as the last riders come in. Eight of them bumped me out of a top ten finish in my first Grand Tour. Oh well, there are still twenty stages to go, some a little more suited to me than the flat winding narrow but scenic streets of Gronignen. And 'il Capitano' (Stefano Garzelli) will be happy I have recovered from my soaking in Romandie so I can help him wrestle for the Maglia Rosa in the last week. I will keep you informed.

CadelEvans.com - Cadel's own website