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A rough start in Chile

9th Vuelta Lider al sur Chile

Stage 1: Ancud - Castro, 126 km

After our arrival in Puerto Montt, we put bikes together and did a short 30km opener ride. We passed about twenty Chileans who were flipping seaweed drying in the sun alongside the nearly empty highway. The accommodations are rustic but comfy, and the food plentiful for all but our vegetarian teammate Justin England. Doug Ollenrenshaw has come down sick but we hope he'll be alright in a few days. I'm having a rough start to the season despite all my training, but again hoping to come right in a few days.

Stage one was far from flat; I'm reminded of a stage of the Tour de Beauce with all the steep rollers. The peloton shattered at least three times, but regrouped each time. The winning break contained three riders from the powerful Lider supermarket sponsored team, and took at least 30 seconds from the bunch. Our top rider was Mike Sayers just inside the top ten. Justin and I both had a rough stage, barely hanging on most of the way. Frank Pipp made the mid race break of eight, which eked out nearly three minutes before a furious chase brought it all back together.

The roads were pretty rough for the first thirty kilometres, with several missing sections of concrete which we had to switch lanes for. It smoothed out as we approached Castro. I was so riveted most of the stage that I didn't absorb much of the surroundings, but I can say that especially in Castro the crowd was large and enthusiastic. We passed the finish line once for an 80km point sprint, and continued south to a u turn back to the town.

Isla Chiloe is known for numerous churches but to be honest I didn't have the energy for any sightseeing! All the teams seem to be spending the night in a single hostel hotel which typifies the lack of building codes in Chile. Nothing fits right and you must hope there isn't a fire. The hardest part is the heat, which none of us are used to yet. We are optimistic that the racing will get easier for us as we acclimate.

Lunch consisted of meat sauce pasta and the requisite tomatoes and lettuce plate. So far that is the regimen; plus a quarter chicken is also common. We'll be really relying on our CytoSport products this week!

More coherent and hopefully enthusiastic writing coming soon.

Thanks for reading,

Email John at

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John Lieswyn is one of Cyclingnews' most popular and sometimes controversial diarists. John started road racing in Florida in 1985. After college graduation in 1990, he raced three seasons for the US National team in Germany, France and Italy, turning professional in 1993 for Coors Light. In 1995 he returned to Europe, scoring numerous top ten results and winning the Delemont (Switzerland) mountain stage of the Regio Tour. After taking a hiatus in 1996, he focused on the US domestic scene with over 40 major wins. In the pre and post season (US) he competes in South America, Australia and New Zealand, notably taking three stage wins in the Herald-Sun Tour (Australia), and overall victory at the Southland Tour (NZ) and Tour de Beauce (Canada). He has written for since 1999 and continues this season with Team Health Net presented by Maxxis.