Back to Italy
Back at the race in Italy just BEFORE my picture was taken with the bouquet I was standing up on a high podium greeting the throngs of people in the overflow crowd… Yeah, right. There was a huge crowd but, I was very humble about my presence. The reason I had on the foreigner’s Leader Jersey and the flower was because I finish first of all the foreign riders (about 5 of us). I was following the wheel on Serio Busseli (sp.), the guy to my right (from your perspective) with the big, black mustache, red and white jersey, and thick muscular legs. He was a very good sprinter so, I followed him as closely as possible. We became pretty good friends in the races. I always tried to find out who was the strongest rider and which was the strongest team so that I could play my tactics using them since I was often without any teammates. It mostly worked. I finished up in the top 10 enough and won one race.
Racing is Italy was more difficult than the US. The races for my age group were longer (60-80km or roughly two hours worth of racing), faster, and larger race groups. In the US 20 guys in a race would be above average. In Italy 60-70 riders was the average with the maximum of 120 riders. The largest group I raced with/against was 100 but, I raced with more than 80 guys more than a few times. That would only happen in the US if it was the state championships or nationals. Remember, this was 1985 and Greg Lemond had won 2 world championships, one as a junior and once as a pro. He finished 2nd in 1985 in Italy. I haven’t spoken to Lemond since the 80s.
Oh, did I mention Armstrong’s ex-coach and also my friend Chris Carmichael was in town back in mid-December? Yep, we did have time for a quick chat but, it was his anniversary so, his time here was mostly for his wife.