The broiling heat of the first two weeks of the Giro d'Italia now seems so far away as nasty weather has caught up with the Corsa Rosa, and the first stage after the rest day, stage 16, was struck by it the hardest way possible.
"We set out under the drizzling rain which quickly turned into snowstorm as we progressed up the Campolongo pass," noted 25 year-old Tinkoff rider Pavel Brutt to the team's Press Officer Sergey Kurdyukov. "The rest day had done me a lot of good, and I planned to attack, but at this moment I was absolutely paralyzed by cold, barely capable of holding the handlebars.
"A Lampre rider rode up and asked why I didn't eat, I said, 'I can't tear my fingers from the handlebar.' Then he took a sandwich out of my back pocket and fed me. It was evident to everyone that we should change into winter clothes, so we had a kind of a pit stop of around 10 minutes."
The weather warmed slightly as the stage started moving at a faster pace.
"Four of us Tinkoff riders – Totò Commesso, Mikhail Ignatiev, Ricky Serrano and I – took part in a series of attacks; with Ricardo we managed to catch at the first chasing group, Salvatore joined the second one. Then that Austrian roller-coaster began, and it turned out that the gradient on those short climbs was much more serious than it was depicted in the road book. I have some back problems which don't let me 'walk' on the pedals when the revs are less then 80, so I got dropped just like it happened on all the walls previously, and had to fall back to the main pack."
Ricardo Serrano was in the first chase of five on the heels of Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo).
"Ricky was disappointed not to win, but he realized Garzelli was unbeatable that day, and there was lack of harmony in the chase group."
Brutt is considering his gearing for the toughest Giro stage, the run to Monte Zoncolan. "In the stage to Zoncolan we won't make the mistake we committed before, where the lightest gear some of us had was 39:25. Now we choose between a 27 and 29 sprocket and 34 will be mounted at the front. I've never raced on such a course before, but the stage is just 140 kilometres long, and I hope all Tinkoff guys will make the time cut."