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John Lieswyn
Photo: © Phil Jolley

The John Lieswyn Diary

A pro racer who now mostly concentrates on the US domestic scene, John Lieswyn is one of Cyclingnews' most popular and sometimes controversial diarists. He has been racing since 1985 and a Cyclingnews diarist since 1999. John likes both criteriums and longer road races, and seems to particularly like it when the going is hard. He has raced in the Regio Tour, Peace Race, Tour of Poland, Vuelta a Guatemala, Tooheys GP and Commonwealth Bank Classic with success, as well as winning astages in the Sun Tour, Killington and Superweek. In 2002, he is riding for 7Up/NutraFig.

From crits to climbs

Tour of the Gila, Silver City, New Mexico, May 1-5, 2002

Getting to Silver City is a bit of a challenge. From Albuquerque it's a four hour drive on mountainous scenic national forest roads. Doug Z and I had agreed to do the "Coors Light '88" (that is, rock star) travel plans and take Mesa Air's $140 r/t commuter flight into Grant County airport just outside Silver City. Sorry Doug, I ended up bailing on that and just drove with Jeff and Tina Mayolo-Pic. I wonder if he wore his shades as he deplaned...

Stage 1 - May 1: Dan Potts Memorial Time Trial, Tyrone

I'm never much for going fast on the first stage of a stage race as I've commented in this diary before. You'd think that knowing this I'd get Jeff to motorpace me for two or three hours the day before every first stage time trial. Missed connections and airline hassles put paid to a ride yesterday, so much for that. I'm hoping for top five, knowing that it'll be tough to match Wohlberg (Saturn) or the climbing talents of Mercury's Wherry and Moninger, who also have the advantage of living at altitude in Colorado, since Silver City is at 6000ft. There's a few guys who go faster than I that I may have a chance of overtaking in the road races, so I'm remaining optimistic of a final podium finish.


Stage 2 - May 2: Silver City to Mogollon Road Race

After leaving Silver City via a short climb, there is a long descent down to two laps through tiny Cliff, NM before finally heading up a five mile climb to the ghost town of Mogollon. It's breezy again today and it looks like there will be a strong tailwind on the climb itself. Thanks to the first and third finish of Wherry and Moninger and the fact they've got about nine riders to work for them, the race is very slow for the first two hours. Nobody wants to try a suicide move in the winds when one team shows up with such dominant strength and numbers.

For most of the race I'm pretty much struggling around mid-pack, and can only watch as on the second Cliff lap my team-mates and a few others try to make a real race of this by attacking. Vogels gives me an earful, calling me a wanker because my team-mates are trying to race their bikes when unbeknownst to us Vogels' team-mate Moninger is off the back with a flat.

You know what? When a team shows up with 13 guys then they are bound to have a higher number of problems like flats and they can't expect that every time they have one of those problems the whole field will quit racing their bikes. Mercury could send back six guys for someone who'd flatted (more riders than our whole team here) and still have five guys to patrol the front of the race. Personally, I don't attack when the race leader has flatted. I would follow another rider if we are in the final miles of a stage, as I did when I followed the guy who was one place behind me on the overall at Tour of Willamette a few years back and Gord was chasing back on from a flat. So when Doug Z flats at Valley of the Sun it's peachy keen for Mercury to keep the throttles wide open but it's not okay for anyone else to race their bikes when it inconveniences Mercury. As a former member of the powerhouse Coors Light team I know that often it's easy to apply the "rules of racing" unilaterally, without taking into account the perspectives of those who you are squashing with superior dollars and numbers.

This takes nothing away from the superb performances of Wherry and Moninger when they rode everyone else off their wheels on the final climb. My 7UP/NutraFig team-mates took awesome care of me in the windy final hour before the climb and I had the sweet wheel (Wherry's) going into the climb but can't go from sea level 40 mile crits to altitude climbing. I finished fifth nonetheless. Honestly I've rarely been able to hold Moninger or Wherry's wheel on a climb anyway. Today shows me that I'm not far off where I want to be- maybe by the time the San Francisco GP rolls around I can be climbing fast enough to be a contender. Thanks Charles, Chuck, Doug and Clark.