It’s a long time trial and the non-GC guys ought to be fine because the time limit will be 25 per cent. So in theory it’s comparatively easy, but in reality it’s a mind game. You can trick yourself into thinking it’s neither here nor there, but that can cause you all manner of problems. You need rest physically and psychologically, but you can’t allow yourself to go into shutdown. You actually need to ride it like you mean it, because you don’t want to lose momentum.
That’s because these are the days in which you really have to focus. You’re heading into one of the hardest weeks of your life, so the psychological element is crucial. As a DS you have to know how to look after them emotionally and psychologically in the week ahead. They are all going to have crises somewhere along the way and it’s about helping them to manage and come through those moments.
Moment in time
It’s widely agreed that the 2009 Giro, the centenary edition, wasn’t an overwhelming success. Lance Armstrong turned up (amid reports that he was being paid vast appearance fees) but made a nuisance of himself throughout. The route wasn’t the best either, but Grand Tours are all about taking the rough with the smooth. Among the brickbats there were some very good days and one such was stage 3 to Valdobbiadene.
The thing to remember about days like these is that the conclusion is, well… a foregone conclusion. It was always going to be a sprint finish, simply because they designed it that way. It was also a Monday afternoon, so on the face of it there was nothing much to see and work to be getting on with. And yet the crowds were huge, just as they always are round here. People came out not because they expected to see anything revelatory, but because they love the Giro. They love the colour and noise of the caravan, the sense of community it engenders, the feeling of being part of a great tradition. They feel like they’re shareholders in it and its wellbeing matters to them. Alessandro Petacchi won – maglia rosa Mark Cavendish crashed – and took pink at the ripe old age of 35.