By Gregor Brown in Cesena
Australian Champion Matthew Lloyd is backing off his plans for the 91st Giro d'Italia's overall and shifting his focus to a possible stage win due to knee problems. The Silence-Lotto rider, who will celebrate his 25th birthday this Saturday when the race hits the high mountains Manghen and Pampeago, does not want to risk further injuries.
He rolled in with the gruppo into Cesena to finish stage 11 and, like all 169 finishing riders, showed the signs of a hard day out. "It was pretty exciting at the start, the weather was incredibly bad," he commented to Cyclingnews. Intermittent rain showers made the 199-kilometre parcours even more difficult to manage, but luckily, Lloyd was not one of the day's many crash victims; however, he is nursing his knee as the race continues with two flat stages on Thursday and Friday.
"I managed to destroy the collateral ligament in my knee so I just can't do anything. We were climbing today and it was just ridiculous. I am not going to destroy my leg to try to keep up when I can try to fix it at least and may finish well in a stage later on [in the Giro d'Italia]."
Lloyd, 61st overall last year and third in the 2006 Under-23 Giro d'Italia, will now shift his focus from a high place overall to a chance at a stage victory. "There is no point in injuring yourself, trying to do stupid things when in reality you can try to make the situation better, not only physically, but mentally as well, for next week. Hopefully, it will turn out okay and hopefully there is not too much damage."
He is currently in 112th, at 21'54" behind the race leader, Italy's Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step).
Lloyd and his Silence-Lotto team's morale are bolstered by the performance of Jurgen Van den Broeck. The 25 year-old Belgian is the top ranked rider for his nation, holding 15th overall and fourth in the young rider's classification. Van den Broeck made sure he was present in all the key charges through stage 11, staying with the likes of Danilo Di Luca and Riccardo Riccò on the Monte Carpegna.
"Jurgen is dong a fantastic job," Lloyd added. "Everyone is stoked about that. If we can keep him going well... Everyone is still motivated; it will be good. And, the weather can't get any worse!"