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2001 Vuelta

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57th Vuelta a España Preview

Spain, September 7- 29, 2002

Vai Dani! Danilo Di Luca's Vuelta diary

 

Danilo Di Luca
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Nationality: Italian
Team: Saeco-Longoni Sport

Italian speedster Danilo Di Luca from the Saeco-Longoni Sport Team will be writing a diary for Cyclingnews.com during this year's Vuelta a España. The classy rider has been in excellent form leading into the 2002 Vuelta, with a recent victory in the Giro Del Veneto showing he has hit Spain's major tour with motivation and speed. With his consistent performances in Italy during August, Di Luca is looking to the Vuelta with confidence. "The Giro del Veneto was my last race before the Vuelta... we've got big plans for the Spanish race. Simoni will be going for the overall and I'm looking for stage wins."

Index to all entries

Stage 5 - September 11: El Ejido o Almeria - Sierra Nevada, 198 km

What a stage!

Today has been a truly intense stage.

My Saeco team spent the whole day at the front of the peloton, trying to limit the advantage of the seven-man escape.

My companions in the job of closing the gap were Sacchi, Galletti and Fuentes – we chased for about 100km. This was a dangerous breakaway as it contained a man each from ONCE, Kelme, USPS, and iBanesto. Our objective was to get to the foot of the climb with a maximum disadvantage of two minutes, so that we could catch them as the road rose.

The climb of the Sierra Nevada is truly long. It doesn't have any very steep sections, but the problem comes when you get above 2,000 metres. The lack of oxygen makes a big difference! On the first part of the climb I spun gently in 39/21 to try and save my legs.

After an incredible series of attacks by Spanish riders there were 12 men at the front. Now it was up to the other teams to close the gap to the breakaway – we of Saeco had done the main work for the day and Simoni and I did not have anyone with the strength left to close the gap.

Heras worked hard to limit the peloton's disadvantage but at this point the stage victory looked in the hands of the riders in the break. Five kilometres from the finish Oscar Sevilla and Jaske of ONCE launched a strong attack. The situation was now complex – I knew I had some strength left. The question was, do I use it now, or wait and maybe miss my chance?

I shifted up into 39/16 or 17 and tried to get away. I gave it my maximum effort and after 3.5km I could see Sevilla's number in front of me. I had succeeded in making 30 seconds on the great Spanish rider!

We're pleased with my performance. A better result than ninth would have been even more pleasing, but the placing is less important than being strong on a climb and earning some seconds in the general classification.

And tomorrow is another day...
Danilo Di Luca

Danilo Di Luca's official website - www.danilodiluca.com

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