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John Lieswyn
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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.

Did you get its number?

3rd El Debate Vuelta a Sinaloa, Mexico

Stage 7- September 27: Culiacan to Culiacan, 100km

It is tough to do anything right now, my sinuses are making my balance bad and my head pound. I actually feel reasonable while racing, but the second I climb off the bike it is like a truck ran over me. So this report will be extra short.

Since we are facing a combined team approaching 20 riders from Chocolate Mayordomo and their sister team Ocho Columnas, we had to make an alliance for help today. Christian Valenzuela's team Canels/Turbo shares our desire to see anyone but the Chocolate/Mayordomo guys win, so we agreed to work together toward that end. We began setting tempo on the front right away, and managed to let a small break go that I was hoping would stay away to the finish, thereby mopping up the time bonuses and preserving the status quo.

Not that I'm afraid of Aldape (no 62), but a sprint finish between him and I has so many variables we can't control. Unfortunately, due to the language barrier and a total dearth of information from the motos regarding the time split, we went too fast and the break didn't get enough of a lead. At 15km to go Chocolate took over and the break was only 45 seconds up the road, which they shut down to zero by 4km to go. So we unwittingly handed them the sprint finish on a plate.

Charles and I fought our way onto Aldape's wheel in the last km and I was proud of myself- I was far more aggressive than I usually am in this capacity. At 500m to go Charles went right and I stayed on Aldape's wheel, confident I could come around in the slight uphill headwind sprint I'm usually so good at. Time to pad my slight overall lead! Then a cacophony of spokes slapping against a chainstay distracted me for a moment. Thinking it was my wheel coming apart, I looked down for a moment. Later I found out it was Valenzuela's rear wheel, he was behind me. But at that split second that I should have jumped, I thought it was my chain or derailleur overshifting and I futzed with my gear selection. By the time I got going, I came up on Aldape's left but not quick enough.

He won, his teammate (no 66) edged me by a centimetre for second, and I was third. I'm very disappointed. I let down my team and myself with silly mistakes in a sprint situation I pride myself on being very good at (long road races ending in uphill headwind sprints). With 10 seconds bonus for first and four for third, he now leads me by two seconds for the overall.

Tomorrow the 20-man team of new vuelta leader Aldape probably won't make the same mistake we did today. The break will probably go out to enough of a lead that it would tax my team greatly to bring it back for a rematch between Aldape and I.

I hope to get the chance to sprint him again in the remaining two stages. If not, I'll have the even tougher proposition of trying to get away from him regardless of breaks and finish line bonus seconds (awarded to the top three). Tomorrow is 150km with slight uphill and crosswinds predicted for the final 30km. Bring it on!


As I hit send on the report, I thought of something that Harm Jansen once said about my writing. He said I complained and made excuses. There were some excuses in that last one, huh? But the final sentence "Bring it on" sums up my overall attitude towards racing and life. Anyone who really knows me would tell you that my defining trait is optimism, tinged with naivete. How else could I show up for work, knowing that I came down miserably sick at nearly every stage race this season? {I'm going to the sinus doc this winter!} I take the perspective that no matter how I feel I'm doing something I love to do in relative safety, while much of the world suffers through abject poverty, civil war and strife. Corny? but undeniable.