10th May, Stage 4
Today we rode for Wouter - it was our way of saying goodbye, however hard it was to part from him.
In the peloton there was no usual exchanges of words. We were all very, very, unchracteristically quiet. We kept on riding in this silence.
During this tribute stage, so many spectators were out at the roadside and warmly received us. I could sense they had been waiting for the arrival of Giro de Italia to their towns. Giro, even with its 100-year history, has not yet visited many places and for some cities, today was the first time to welcome Giro. When I think of that, I feel that we have to ride no matter what, as long as there are fans out there, looking forward to watching us ride through their towns.
The race will start again tomorrow. Concentration. That's what I need.
11th May, Stage 5
Just before entering the Strade Bianche, my front wheel punctured! So I had to be at the very bottom of the main group on the "white path". It came at the worst timing imaginable! I was at the front of the peloton until it happened!! Tiago (Machado) and Popo also had some troubles so lagged behind from the general classification contention.
A pretty hard stage. But that makes Giro exciting. Giro is REALLY exciting!
In any case, still a long way to go and I want to keep trying! My condition is good and if I keep on trying, there will be a day where it pays off.
12th May, Stage 6
Another TOUGH stage with a very high speed from the early kilometres. Popo was in the escape and that in itself was good - but Rabobank was setting the pace super-high, so only a small gap was allowed. Not an easy day for Popo :(
My role was to be near Tiago all day and support him. No trouble for us today (good) but the last climb was so hard that I was almost dropped!!
Tomorrow will be the first summit-finish. The total distance is only 110km so I have to be very much aware not to miss the time-cut.
(Original Text by Fumiyuki Beppu, translated by Maki Terao)