By Kirsten Robbins in Dahlonega, Georgia
Rock Racing's climber Cesar Grajales is noticeably absent from the Tour de Georgia due to a severe case of knee tendonitis that emerged after using a bike too small during his team's January training camp held in Malibu, California.
"My bike did not arrive from the flight into camp and so I had to use a spare bike that was really too small for me," the Columbian native told Cyclingnews at the Stage 5 finish line in Dahlonega. "This race has always been very important to me and was really where I became recognised as a climber here in America."
According to Grajales, doctors' orders were to take several weeks off his machine in order to cure the tendonitis in his knee. However, it has taken much longer than expected, forcing the 2005 Brasstown Bald winner to sit on the sidelines for this year's event. "I'm really disappointed about this and I really just started to ride my bike again a week ago," said Grajales, who suffered an untimely broken collarbone when leading the Redlands Classic before last year's Tour de Georgia.
The humble Athens, Georgia resident made his US debut racing for Jittery Joe's when he beat Lance Armstrong atop the tour's queen stage to Brasstown Bald by 17 seconds. The stage typically known as the race decider ends in a five-kilometre climb with pitches as steep as 25 percent. "I ended up in seventh overall that year when I was racing for Jittery Joe's," recalled Grajales, who has continued his climbing success throughout the NRC calendar since 2005.
"I have been here watching every finish in the Tour de Georgia because I love this race," he said. "I will be the first one at the top of the Brasstown Bald tomorrow to see them climb to the top."
Grajales hopes to be back racing at the upcoming Mt Hood Classic starting May 13.