- Cycling News
May 16, 2012, 9:40 BST,
May 16, 2012, 10:50 BST
Pole reflects on his headline-grabbing stage 8 ride
The second entry is from Polish rider Bartosz Huzarski. The 31-year-old rider, looks back at his team's performances as the Giro crossed into Italy following the opening stages in Denmark.
Reto [Hollenstein] reported on the three stages in Denmark, and now I'd like to tell you a little about the first few days in Italy.
After a rest day, things got started again with a team time trial in Verona. After our win at the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, a lot of people were expecting us to do very well. But the course here was a lot more difficult, twice as long and the competition much tougher. Of course we gave it our best, but we weren't entirely satisfied with the result.
We did manage to stick together until the final kilometer, but we started off the race a little too slow and lost some valuable seconds as a result, which knocked us down a few spots in the end. The middle part of the course was quite difficult, which is why we wanted to save some energy – and we had the third-best time there.
We also didn't want to make the same mistake we made at the Giro del Trentino. There, we rode too fast and lost three riders. Having several riders in front of you while riding on straight, wide sections makes a big difference because that way you don't have to ride out front in the wind as much. In any case, hindsight is always 20/20, but 13th place was just fine.
Then, the next day, there was a sprint stage and we supported our fast rider, Daniel [Schorn]. He was in really good shape, and on all the hills he was among the first 15 riders. In the final section we placed him right behind GreenEdge, but unfortunately he was blocked in during the sprint. It's always difficult when you're feeling good and then in the end you can't achieve anything. But there are still a few more flat stages and he'll no doubt take advantage of the opportunities.
For us, the sixth stage was the highlight of the Giro thus far. Cesare [Benedetti] finished in fifth place in that difficult race, and I'm very happy for him! He's such a nice, friendly guy and always a loyal helper during a race. He really deserved it. None of us had even dared to finish in the top 5 before! But of course I hope that that won't be the end of our climb up the ladder….
The next stage also went well for the team. Reto was in the breakaway group the entire day. Even if you don't have a good chance to break through, you still always have to take your chances! And because he's now leading in the Breakaway Classification, there was a bit more money for the team's coffers.
For me personally, the race was important because I noticed that I could keep up with the first group. I only had to let them go during the final kilometers. It was clear to me that I couldn't achieve anything more that day. I preferred to save some energy for the next day – and everything turned out well with that tactic.
I knew that the eighth stage would suit me well and – as long as I survived until the end – I could have a good sprint in a smaller group. At first everything was working out well and I was riding for third place in the sprint. I was directly on [Rigoberto] Uran's (Team Sky) rear wheel when he rode right into the wind. I don't think he was expecting so much wind. In any case, he slowed down and I had to brake and then speed up again. Looking back, it's quite annoying that I didn't start sprinting sooner.
But then I got a message from a friend in Poland saying that I was only the ninth Polish rider in history to finish among the top 10 in a stage at the Giro. So I should be quite proud of that. My goal for the rest of the tour is to hold on to my standing in the general classification for as long as possible. I'll just have to take it day by day to see how it goes. The Giro is very unpredictable!
- Cycling News
May 14, 2012, 12:53 BST,
May 14, 2012, 13:55 BST
Hollenstein blogs on opening stages
The first blog is from Swiss rider Reto Hollenstein. The 26-year-old is, like many of his teammates, making his first start in a Grand Tour.
Giro d'Italia – We've gotten started
On Wednesday we set out for the Giro d'Italia. On the day we arrived there wasn't really a Giro feeling – everyone was really relaxed and laid back.
But on Thursday we did a casual training session and saw the pink signs and posters everywhere – that's when things really got started!
The next day we had our team presentation and it was just awesome! We rode our bikes through a narrow street for the first few meters, a crowd of thousands of people on the left and right, and then we headed for the stage. It was then that I realized that it wasn't a dream, but that I was really starting in the world's second largest race.
The opening time trial was pretty demanding with lots of curves, changes in direction and – at the end – some pretty strong wind. The atmosphere in Herning and along the entire route was excellent. Some people were even dancing! I was fairly satisfied with my race. I had a few small technical mistakes, but otherwise things went really well.
The first real stage was pretty nerve wracking – there were lots of crashes, but thankfully we were spared. Unfortunately Schorni had a defect shortly before the finish line, but Timon and Matthias came in 11th and 14th – a respectable performance.
On the third day I rode in the lead group of the day for 160 kilometers, but unfortunately we didn't prevail. But if you don't try, you can't win!
It was still a good race for me and my team. We were able to show that we are contenders.
In the sprint Schorni then came in 14th after barely escaping a fall. There's a thin line between luck and misfortune – one time you have a lead in the sprint and the next time you crash and the race is over for you. We were lucky, but unfortunately we were again shy of making the top 10.
At the same time, I am certain that we will still manage to achieve this goal here! I can thus draw a positive conclusion from the first three stages in Denmark – three times in the top 15 is a good debut for us.
After we showered, buses came to pick us up and took us to the airport. Two entire airplanes were rented for all of the riders and the Giro staff. We arrived at the hotel in Verona around 10 p.m. The transfer to Italy went really smoothly.
Things weren't quite as comfortable for our physical therapists and mechanics since they rode with the entire fleet and materials for 1,500 kilometers. Luckily everyone arrived safely. I really respect their commitment and stamina. In addition to the human factor, for riders it is crucial that the team behind the team works perfectly.
I was really glad to have a day to rest after my long attack and the transfer to Italy. After all, I want to arrive in Milan ;-)
- Giro d'Italia 2012: Team NetApp blog
Many observers were surprised when Team NetApp received a wildcard invitation to the Giro d'Italia. After all, the team didn't have any wins at all in 2011, its first year at the Professional Continental level. But this year the team has broken through, taking three wins already.
It is now happily making its Grand Tour debut, and the riders on the team will take turns recording their impressions of mixing it up with the big boys in one of the biggest races in the cycling world.