Fun in the sun for hard man Hunter by Bob Aldridge
Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 16:49
The life of a top professional cyclist isn't all constant grand tours and incessant one-day
classics. There's also time for a bit of fun, even if it's in the middle of some very hard training.
In a recent conversation with his manager, Tony Harding, South African ace Robert Hunter gave a
little insight into the quality and quantity of his pre-season training at Denia near Valencia in
He's doing it in some pretty exalted company: Marco "The Pirate" Pantani (Winner of the 1998 Tour de
France and the Giro d'Italia) and double World Champion (1999 & 2001) Oscar Freire.
Even Hunter's injured hand (the relic of an altercation with a motorist earlier this year in South
Africa) is healing fast.
"We have been doing about five hours daily and the hand is looking better every day," says Hunter.
The hugely experienced Pantani, now nearing veteran status, still appears to be the driving force in
the quality of their riding, and Hunter comments, "I tell you this small man is as strong as ever
and very focused again; he's making me suffer like a tired dog."
He has also been a little concerned over his achilles tendon which was injured in a recent race
crash, but like Toyota SA - everything is going right in their preparations for the big
Tirreno-Adriatico classic next week, "the achilles is fine" he adds.
The benefits of this elite training group are clear when he says, "Marco and Oscar have so much
experience and they really motivate me; we are training hard and having fun in the sun."
Next week the Rabobank star faces a big test at the classic Tirreno-Adriatico race.
This eight stage race traverses Italy from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic (hence the name!) and
is a great form guide for the upcoming Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and the big one -
Hunter's valuable time in Spain with Freire and Pantani will stand him in good stead as the world's
best riders confront the legendary European spring classics.