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Markus Eichler's Giro diary

Markus Eichler rides the Giro for Milram
Photo ©: AFP
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Markus Eichler of Team Milram is actually a Classics specialist, who is riding his first Grand Tour. The 26 year-old turned pro in 2004 with the Continental Team ComNet-Senges. In 2006 he signed with Unibet.com – which means he didn't have many opportunities to show what he could do, although he did win the Ronde van Drenthe. This season he signed with the German ProTour Team Milram.

His Grand Tour started out with a 13-hour journey from his home in Mönchengladbach, Germany, to Palermo, and thanks to the long transfers, he is still trying to catch up on his rest. Going into the eighth stage, he was 175th overall, over an hour and 12 mintues down. But Milram is a sprinter's team, and this is not really a sprinter's Giro. Eichler is enjoying the experience, anyway .... at least so far.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The suite life

Hello everyone,

Sorry that you haven't heard from me in a while, but we don't always have internet access here...

Since it has been three days since I wrote anything, I will sum up. On Sunday, the big spectacle was on the program, the mountain time trial up to the Kronplatz. Totally crazy, up to a 24% gradient. Beforehand there were a lot of rumors about the road, and in Italian TV they showed how the Italian favorites had trained there in the snow....

Well, I was the first off at 10 a.m. and was celebrated by the many fans on the way. At this point I have to praise the organizers. Everyone is complaining about the many transfers and the general Giro organization. But this mountain time trial was perfectly organized and the road of graded sand was perfectly prepared. It felt like asphalt. And the fans along the way were fantastic – some of them stayed they eight hours and cheered every rider on. One of them even came from my hometown of Mönchengladbach! Many thanks for the support!

I rode with 34 – 28, actually mountain bike gears. And I really needed them! When I arrived at the finish, I changed clothes immediately, took the ski lift down to the hotel and then from my bed watched everyone else. I noted that my math abilities have picked up some from the Giro. It was close, but I stayed in the time limit.

Other than that, it was all rather odd. It was so steep that the mechanics sat on race motorcycles, holding replacement bikes in their hands. One motorcycle even fell over....

The food in the hotel was top class, the best we have had so far at the Giro, and my room is worth mentioning, too. I had the "Rose Suite", with a huge canopy bed. That's where I spent the rest of my day.

The rest day was very important again. We ate breakfast and left fairly early. 300 km over two passes. We rode the last 40 km on our bikes, to loosen up our legs a bit. I ended up getting lost. Erik rode his usual fast tempo, as always, and I was a bit more casual. Then I came to a traffic circle, no teammates in sight and I had no idea which way to go. I searched for the right way for 20 minutes before our DS finally found me.....

Yesterday I noticed for the first time how difficult the day after a rest day can be. You lose your rhythm because you are concentrating on regeneration. My body was still thinking of regeneration and not of racing. Fortunately the stage wasn't too hard, even though it as tougher than expected. Somehow we just seem to be hexed in the mass sprints. Everything went perfectly but at the end there were still three others who were faster.

At the finish in today's stage, my SRM showed an average of 260 watts. And actually I just rode in the field all day. When you think I already have about 3000 km in my legs, that is not bad at all. There were a lot of ups and downs, with a 10 percent section in the closing round. A rider like Emanuele Sella may find that rather flat, but some of the rest of us didn't.....if we had ridden this stage yesterday, I would have been in trouble.

Otherwise, I am still upholding my ritual with coffee in the "Tour Village." Unfortunately I am running out of people to drink with. Gerolsteiner only has two riders left, so I usually chat with Sven Krauss. He is also suffering. But I feel good and think, that I will also survive the final two mountain stages.