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57th Vuelta a España
Spain, September 7- 29, 2002
Vai Dani! Danilo Di Luca's Vuelta diary
Hi guys, today was one of those days in which I felt really strong! I got out of bed this morning with the objective to win, and I assure you that I tried until the last kilometre!
Before the first climb there were some men away who were dangerous for the final classification like the Spaniard Flecha, so I decided together with two Euskaltel-Euskadi's (David Etxebarria and De Munain) to attack on the second climb.
We immediately got a good gap (about 35"), at the top of the climb we caught Alessandro Petacchi, and then the rest of them. In 30 km of chasing with our heads down we caught back Flecha and co., then the rider of Acqua e Sapone, Perdiguero.
I looked at the blackboard that showed the gap: 2'20"! I said 'Danilo...keep going...go Danilo...'
The radio informed me a short time after that ONCE began to pull everyone along...because why? The gap was quickly reduced, but I continued the escape...I believed in myself. At the foot of the climb there were three of us, with just 30". The hopes were slim but I had done so many kilometres in the break...
The climb was demanding, but I went up it with agility and an optimal pedaling cadence. First I got rid of the Euskaltel rider, then Flecha. I was alone against the peloton...going strongly...but the pulls of Heras and Mayo managed to get me before the top. I thought 'too bad...but don't let go.'
On the first part of the descent I recovered a little, then together with Jaksche of ONCE I tried again. The road was perfect for another attack but Sevilla's men did not want to let us go. We from Saeco tried again with Simoni on the last part of the descent but it was nothing doing.
Just when it looked as though it would end in a sprint, three got away until the finish. In the sprint I wasn't enough of a "Killer" until the finish. The result: All day on the attack, 6th in the stage classification with the consolation of having felt really strong.
A promise: I will try again.
Danilo Di Luca