As temporary holder of the maglia nera, Jack Bobridge (Blanco) was the first starter in the stage 8 time trial at the Giro d’Italia. In spite of his strong pedigree against the clock, the Australian opted to save his resources during the undulating 55 kilometre test with an eye to his duties in support of team leader Robert Gesink in the next two weeks.
“I just wanted to finish but that last climb was tough… I don’t know why it had to finish up there,” Bobridge told Cyclingnews after negotiating the final haul up to the Villa del Balì. “I was just riding to get through it, I didn’t go full on at all. It’s more important for Robert that I’m as fresh as possible for the two weeks to come.”
Bobridge’s Giro to date has been one of ups and downs. Like many, he struggled during the two testing days in Italy’s deep south that followed the Ischia team time trial, but he enjoyed a foray off the front in the company of fellow countryman Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) on stage 6 to Margherita di Savoia.
“It wasn’t the plan to get in the break but it just happened that way and it was good to have a roll and a stretch with another Aussie,” Bobrdige said. “We didn’t go too deep it was a fairly consistent effort so I didn’t feel too bad after the stage.”
Friday’s rugged stage into the heart of the Abruzzo region was a different matter, however, as the peloton split to pieces over a final 50 kilometres that featured scarcely a metre of flat road. With heavy rain making the descents especially treacherous, for those caught behind it was simply a matter of exercising due prudence and making it to the finish to fight another day.
“I had a bad day yesterday and I was in the gruppetto and there were a lot of crashes because those roads are like ice when it’s wet,” he said. “Yesterday was just about finishing within the time cut and moving on.”
Bobridge’s chief role at the Giro, of course, is to chaperone Robert Gesink to the foot of the mountains in the best position possible, and as a collective unit, the Blanco team enjoyed a solid opening week. Gesink begins the time trial in 7th place overall, while Steven Kruijswijk and Wilco Kelderman are also well-placed.
“The atmosphere’s really good in the team and everyone’s really happy,” Bobridge said. “We’ve got through the first week pretty good, Wilco had a couple of crashes but he’s ok. So far we’re pretty happy with how things are going and hopefully it continues and we can get Robert onto the podium.”
Though Bobridge harbours long-term ambitions of exploring his possibilities as a stage racer, he is mindful that he is still limited by his track-laden programme of the past four years, in which he broke the world individual pursuit record and lead Australia to team pursuit silver at the London 2012 Olympics.
“I think mainly my role will be in the valleys before and positioning before the climb for this year,” he said. “I haven’t done enough road yet to get over the big climbs and mountain passes. But maybe in a few years’ time it will be a different story.”
In the shorter term, Bobridge is aiming to pick up wins and placings in the second half of the season. “I go from here to the Dauphiné and I think it’s hard to say I’ll be good there, as I’ll still be pretty tired but I think it’s the best thing for me at the moment to do the Giro and all these races,” he said. “Then in the second half of the season I think I can be a lot better and have a lot better form and maybe have a go for myself somewhere.”