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Dauphiné Libéré
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John Lieswyn
Photo: © 7Up/Maxxis

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 stages in the Sun Tour, Killington and Superweek. In 2003, he is once again riding for 7Up, this year co-sponsored by tyre maker Maxxis.

Tour de Toona, part 5: Aftermath

You know the extreme biking on TV? Where BMX freestyle riders face-plant off ramps and stairs? That stuff is tame compared to a crash in road racing. Let me tell you what crashing at 40mph feels like a day later. And lest you think I'm just whining about it, remember that this is the profession I chose and love, and that crashing is an accepted part of racing. You can't get mad at the other participants in the crash unless it was caused by something stupid like an attempt to pass when there isn't room.

I woke up this morning incredibly stiff. I've got a bit of a bad mood on because it feels like I've been run over by a truck. Tendons and ligaments of my left shoulder, neck (whiplash; my helmet was shattered from the impact), and left inner thigh are all sprained. My right hip is bruised deeply, not on the skin but at the bone. And that's not including the easier to handle common road rash. I must keep reminding myself that at least I'm not wearing a halo around my neck and head for a few months like unlucky Nathan O'Neill.

At Fitchburg, Horner waited until it was clear that Vogels was not in dire straits or able to rejoin the peloton. Today Chris Baldwin didn't start in yellow out of respect for the situation that put him in the lead. Competitors and directors don't want to win because a rider has crashed, and that is why there is an unwritten rule about waiting after crashes. I (like most people) would be fine with it if Danielson (for example) had to break the rules to regain the pack after getting slammed to the pavement. Today not one competitor complained to me about what we did to get me back in the race. More on that following…

My bike (damaged Time fork, $300), Bell helmet ($150), Smith glasses ($120), Motorola race radio ($75), and Cannondale uniform ($125) were all written off for a base monetary cost of about $770. Add to that the official penalty of $215 and you've got nearly a thousand dollar crash. I remember before being sponsored how tough it was to swallow such expensive incidents.

What is a director to do when Andy Stone (Shimano) or Zig (Mavic) aren't handy to back up the team cars? Let his team captain walk the last 20km with a broken chain? The 20 second time penalty assessed against my overall GC completely changes the race for me. Just ask Fred Rodriguez after he was given a similar penalty at the Tour of Georgia. Before the Hollidaysburg stage I was slightly ahead of Horner (one of Saturn's weapons here) and with a 20 second penalty I'm now thoroughly behind both Danielson and Horner. If I won tomorrow's stage in a small winning break with one of those guys (but not Baldwin), the penalty essentially relegates me to second place overall.

It has been suggested that the penalty was too light. It was completely appropriate- the UCI schedule of fines (19.2.2) says the penalty for sheltering behind a vehicle is 50SF and 20 seconds per offence. When the officials spotted it and instructed Jeff to desist, he pulled away leaving Oscar to tow me the rest of the way to the peloton. Let the officials at the race make the call; they are doing a good job. I'm writing all this because for every critical email received that says I have Tourette Syndrome of the keyboard. I get a hundred more that congratulate me for writing my side of the story.

Martinsburg Circuit Race; 4 laps, approximately 80miles; Wet roads but the rain has stopped

After the above defense I'm out of words to describe today's race. Navigators rode hard for Baldwin. The 8 man break included our Oscar Pineda and reached a maximum of 3:30 before the assistance of Grand Performance (for Bergman) and Webcor (missed the break) helped bring it back to under a minute by the finish. 19 year old Cameron Evans (Broadmark) made a well timed solo attack to take the win while Oscar took second for us, just like last year.


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