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Casey Stoner turns to acupuncture as he limbers up for 2004

Casey Stoner turns to acupuncture as he limbers up for 2004

Casey Stoner turns to acupuncture as he limbers up for 2004

It's been a long, cold winter for most of the riders making preparations for the 2004 125cc World Championship but for Casey Stoner things couldn't have been much more different. Record temperatures in his native Australia have meant a scorching summer break for the 18 year old, who has been preparing for his first season with KTM by charging their off-road bikes through the bush land around his parents' new 300 acre farm in the hills above Sydney. However, it hasn't all been sunshine and supercross for the youngster, who admits he's probably had as tough a time maintaining his training regime as his racing counterparts in frosty Europe.

"It's been like 40ºC down here for most of the summer so it's not really ideal for training in," commented the 18 year old. "I have been able to focus on some muscle strength work but any cardiovascular stuff has been a struggle. I have also been suffering from stomach cramps, a bad back and sore muscles which have hindered me ever since last season. The other week it got really bad and I felt like I had done 100 sit-ups without having done anything, so I ended up going to see the doctor, who thought it might be a stomach ulcer. It wasn't, and we're still not sure what it was."

"In the end I went to see a Chinese doctor, who put me on a course of acupuncture and herbal remedies such as green tea. It was a really strange experience but I was ready to try anything and it's really worked. Today I went out and ran 12km without feeling a thing so my fitness has not suffered and that's really pleasing. I know my strength is up probably as high as it could possibly be for a 125 so I'm ready to get back to Europe and start testing."

Stoner's first preseason test is pencilled in for the 28th February at Almeria in Spain, a date which couldn't come around soon enough for the teenager. "I've been hanging to get back on the bike since the last test, I really can't wait," he said. "I'm looking forward to working hard and finding every possible way of making the bike go fast. After such a long break I just want to get my head down and get into some serious work."

A debut test with the 2003 version KTM at Estoril in December represents Stoner's only contact with the Austrian factory machinery, but he is looking forward to getting to grips with the 2004 version which has been developed by Harald Bartol and his experienced team of engineers over the last few months.

"The 2003 bike felt really good but it was hard to tell how it might match up to the others because we were on our own. We'll be on our own again at Almeria just running through all the new parts on the 2004 bike but it isn't a Grand Prix circuit and I haven't been there before so it will be good to get to the official tests alongside all the other riders and see how we measure up. There's nothing like being out there against your rivals and I'm really looking forward to taking them all on with KTM this year," he concluded.

125cc, 2003, Casey Stoner

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