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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.
Battling back in
First Union Invitational, Lancaster, PA, June 4
The rain held off! The oily downtown sections of this course could have been like a skating rink. Michael Barry crashed twice on the last lap the year he was second, in the rain.
Over 150 Pro/1s took to the course and it was blazing fast from the start as usual. Hincapie's bike was messed up and he switched to a spare. Just as his USPS boys were bringing him back up his team-mate Christian Vandevelde went down in a midpack crash. I think Christian is OK - someone saw him riding to the feed zone later so let's hope he's uninjured. It'd have been a pity for him to break something and not get to race in the Tour de France.
I saw a few awesome saves today. Coming out of the park there's a steep descent with a 90 degree left turn leading into a flat section along a river. Just after this turn some Euro dude had a problem with his rear cassette and ended up losing his chain. He was up on his front wheel, rear wheel swinging wildly in the air behind him, similar to the crash of Tyler Hamilton in the Giro. I was right behind him buit luckily for us both he brought it under control. I had to close the huge gap he'd opened, and it took me most of a kilometer to do it.
My 7up/NutraFig team-mates were riding great today. Kevin has some serious speed right now, and did his job really well for the first five laps. Horner (Prime Alliance) was on fire from the start: he soloed a lap and a half before being joined by five others. Navigators, Mercury and 7UP missed this move. Mercury did a great job keeping the break close- they never got more than 50 seconds ahead and eventually the break faded.
At four to go I thought my day was OVER. The peloton had split, and 21 guys were away. My group was completely demoralized and just putting along. Within a couple of kilometres we'd lost over a minute, and the leading group was out of sight. Rubber legs under me. Going into the park I could see a couple Mapeis driving the pace back up, and I moved up just in time to gut it out over the feed hill and stay close to the Mapei guy.
After the descent it was he and I, and a Navigator (O'Bee?) - then nobody. I squeaked over my radio with what little breath I could muster: "this John, bridging up" and a few minutes later "wait... help". I pulled a kilometre as hard as I could and we turned on to another climb. Slotting in third behind the Mapei guy. We can see the back of the leading bunch at the top of the hill as we start climbing. O'Bee is flying. Mr. Mapei is blowing, but I can't come around... yet. I grunt some encouragement as he sits up, and I jump after O'Bee who definitely isn't waiting around for us.
One kilometres later and one at a time the three of us are back in the race. At this point I'm so cross-eyed that I figure the best I can do for my team is cover a few moves. For a lap or so I actually come around enough that I can do a bit of attacking, but now there are three up the road and we've missed putting a guy up there. At the end we must settle for having four 7UPs in the top 20, but nothing spectacular.
Compared to last year, when I won the points and finished top 10 (which Horner pulled off this year) I wasn't as good, but I'm really happy that when all seemed lost back in the gruppetto I managed to get back in the race. And my team is far better than last year- we may have won the team prize although it'll be close on points between us and Navigators. Well, it's nearly 10pm and I've got to zip over for a massage before bed. Til Trenton, then!