By Susan Westemeyer
It sounds like the kind of season a rider would rather forget: sick all spring, his team decimated shortly before the start of the Tour de France, and then broken collarbone putting an early end to the fall races. But T-Mobile's Giuseppe Guerini is proud of what heand the teamaccomplished this year.
Looking back at the season on the team's website, www.t-mobile-team.com, Guerini said that the first few months of the season, he "fought with health problems, especially stomach troubles, which cost me a lot of time, training, and races. I wasn't able to make up for all of this before the Tour."
"The biggest obstacle at the 2006 Tour was not Alpe d'Huez or Col du Galibier," he noted, but the last second announcements that the team's captain and an important helper were removed from the team, and that no replacements were allowed. "Our reaction was typical for cyclists: We got on our bikes, fled from the hordes of journalists and the general chaos and trained for two hours someplace where there were no cars and no people, in order to get our heads clear."
The seven remaining riders were able to not only clear their heads but to ride successfully in the Tour. Three stage wins, the yellow jersey in the team for a few days, and a third place overall finish were the results. "But what pleased me more than that was that we stood on the podium in Paris as the best team. That was definitely my best moment of the season. Who would have thought at the start that we would accomplish that under these circumstances?"
Guerini continued to suffer from stomach problems during the Tour, preventing him from accomplishing his dream of a third Tour stage win. And a crash in the Regio Tour in August gave him a cracked collarbone, putting an early end to his season.
Guerini, 36, will be the senior rider on T-Mobile in 2007, not only by age, but also by length of service. He has been with the team since 1999.