By Gregor Brown
Taking fourth place behind some of the best up-and-comers in the business in Deutschland Tour's toughest stage on Saturday did not dampen Italy's Pietro Caucchioli outlook. The 33 year-old Crédit Agricole rider from Verona is determined to keep trying in Germany and on into 2009.
"I hoped to do better," said Caucchioli to Cyclingnews following 178-kilometre stage one, with a finish on the Hochfügen. USA-based Team Colombia out-foxed him in the closing kilometres with Linus Gerdemann and Thomas Lövkvist.
"Columbia did well. I knew that Gerdemann had the best condition here in Germany. Also, Lövkvist was strong. He was able to stay with us without any problems."
Janez Brajkovic (Astana) was also part of the leading group coming into the finale. "Brajkovic joined back in the finale on the false-flat and we were watching each other – maybe I could have followed Brajkovic even if I did not have the legs like Gerdemann."
Caucchioli knows that he will have to try his luck on one of the Deutschland Tour's other mountain stages as the final time trial will hurt his chances overall. "I am racing day by day now, with the last day being a time trial I have to gain a lot of time to have a chance."
A win would help Caucchioli – winner of two stages in the 2001 Giro d'Italia – who is without a contract for 2009 as Crédit Agricole departs from the sport. He is searching for a team where he can use his climbing abilities in a supporting role.
"I am near an agreement, but it is too early to say its name. I want to have a team that has a strong leader who I can support. I can do my work on the climbs. At 34 years old, I can't ask to be the leader of the Grand Tours; I prefer to go to a team that has a strong rider. Will I stay in a French team? I don't believe so."
The Deutschland Tour continues with stage two, a 182.6-kilometre run to Hesselberg. The final stage is a 34-kilometre time trial in Bremen.