Hello from the Dolomites.
A lot of things have happened in the Giro d'Italia since we approached the last week of racing. When we left the Riviera in Savona, I learned that the riders from Orica-GreenEdge were warming-up on rollers and eating their gels prior to the start as if it were a time trial. Stage 13 was in theory a good one for an early attack, but Team Sky didn't let anyone go.
Sometimes it's hard to control the bunch on narrow roads but that day, we mostly had wide roads on the way to Cervere, so Mark Cavendish's team was able to discourage whoever wanted to attack. They just occupied all the first positions of the peloton. Sometimes, in this kind of situation, it's just useless to try and get any other outcome but a bunch gallop. In fact, the world champion won his first stage that day.
Team Sky has done a good job so far. Their two Colombians are high on the GC and occupy the first two positions in the best young riders' category. It's no surprise for Rigoberto Uran. We've known him for years [he started with Italian team Tenax six years ago at the age of 19], but Sergio Henao is new in the game. Prior to the Giro, I identified him as the possible surprise, similar to Richie Porte two years ago. He's not only a typical Colombian climber. He's a good time triallist, too. I can imagine his enthusiasm, riding his first Giro and being up there with the white jersey.
We've been very wet since we left the Mediterranean coast! During stage 14, some bad memories bounced back to my mind, as we experienced bad weather conditions again in the same region - Piedmonte - where I badly crashed last year en route to Mucagnaga. We've been again exposed to the difficulties caused by the construction of speed bumps, poles and curbs.
I had more bad luck during stage 15. I was in a breakaway group, and I slipped on a wet road on the downhill of the Valcava. I thought it was because of some oil on the road, but I realized a bit too late that my front tire was deflated. The neutral service car had passed me, and the team cars weren't allowed to move up because the gaps were too tight. So I was alone in between groups for 10 kilometers with my deflated tyre. I passed the feed zone where nobody had a wheel for me to change.
I thank the Ag2r-La Mondiale team for its help. It gave me a new wheel as they were behind Guillaume Bonnafond, who got dropped from the very front of the race after breaking away early with eventual stage winner Matteo Rabottini.
During the rest day, it was so rainy again that I didn't go out. I rode on rollers for an hour. I would have liked to do more, outside.
The following night, I slept for 10 hours consecutively, and I only woke up only because I was hungry. At the start of stage 16, I clarified something with the officials of the neutral service. I had been quoted as blaming them but I didn't. I know that they follow the instructions of the judges. It was just unfortunate that no neutral car was behind me at that time; it's nobody's fault.
I tried to catch the breakaway on stage 16. We all knew that it would work that day. But my legs weren't as good as in the previous days, probably as a consequence of my crash. I hope to come back to my normal condition, just like my teammate Taylor Phinney, who has suffered a lot after crashing in Denmark. In the past few days, he has improved drastically. Now he follows the rhythm in the climbs with no problem. Let's bet on him: I think he's the hot favorite for the closing time trial in Milan.
See you there!