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By Tyler Hamilton, CSC-Tiscali cycling team
Today the Giro d’Italia got underway. Finally. Part of me feels like I’ve been making the journey to this opportunity since last August.
That’s when Bjarne Riis and I sat down and started to discuss my objectives for the 2002 season. He mentioned that he thought the Giro d’Italia could be a good race for me. Having been so focused on the Tour de France in previous years, I had never given the Giro serious thought. But I liked the sound of it. And so, preparations got underway.
Preparation and focus
It’s hard to fully describe what goes into getting ready for a grand tour. I think it’s safe to say you have to make the race the center of your focus. Maybe even the center of your universe.
Everything I have done on and off my bike since the end of last season has been geared toward getting ready to ride in Italy. Sure there’s been lots of training on the bike. But the cross training on the hiking trails and ski slopes of New Hampshire, Vermont, Italy and France were all part of the effort too. Not to mention all the time spent previewing the stages.
There are small details that make a difference as well. Like opting to forgo the Christmas cookies and the second glasses of wine while out to dinner with friends. In the back of your mind you always have to be thinking about putting your best foot forward when the time comes for you to face your greatest challenge of the season. And so, with the homework, training and sacrifices done and made, I am finally under way.
Keep in mind that maintaining a high degree of focus is no guarantee that you will achieve your goals. But it does give you the satisfaction of knowing you put everything you had into accomplishing your goal. Beyond that, you just have to hope that there will also be a little luck on your side.
I was pretty nervous about the Prologue today. The course was very technical and the forecast was iffy. I told my wife to pray for dry roads – and I know she did because the rain stayed at bay. But if you were watching the coverage you know by now that my Giro d’Italia literally started with a bang.
Make that a big bang.
I haven’t seen the replay of my crash yet so I can’t really tell you what happened. Basic bottom line is that I went into the first turn too fast and went down. I was probably a little too excited. I had ridden the course in the morning and thought I had a good sense for all of the turns. But in an effort to go for it, I overdid it.
The whole incident happened so fast, it’s really a blur. I don’t even think I was finished crashing yet and Bjarne Riis was already out of the car helping me up. Back out on the course I couldn’t get my mind off of what happened. I rode through the rest of the turns like a zombie, pushed all the wrong gears on the straight-aways and rode into the finish cringing.
Needless to say, I was pretty upset with myself. I’m lucky to have finished with the time I did, all things considered. The real shame is that I really did feel like I had great legs today.
But tomorrow is another day. And the team staff here at CSC-Tiscali are all upbeat and ready to help me get back in the game. Our team’s physiotherapist Ole Kaire Foli, who is virtually a sports medicine God back in Denmark, was headed home today after helping the riders get ready for the start.
He got word of my incident while at the Amsterdam airport and returned to the race even though his bags were already checked. He’ll be plenty busy tonight working on my shoulders and the bumps on my head.
My apologies to his family members who were expecting to see him this evening.
My wife phoned immediately after the finish and remarked that it was really a pity that I only seem to crash my bike when the whole world is watching.
I was trying not to think about that, but she has a point. Call it grand tour jitters I guess.
Hopefully the bad karma is behind me. Tomorrow is another day. And I’m ready to get rolling.
Thanks for reading.