Caisse d'Epargne's Ivan Gutierrez was a little disappointed at his performance in the Giro d'Italia's first stage, the time trial by many falsely interpreted as a 'prologue'. After his two stage wins in the Tour Méditerranéen and the Vuelta a Murcia this spring, the Spaniard came down with 'flu in the first stage of Tirreno Adriatico, which put his level of fitness down. But now, Gutierrez' form is on the rise again, and he intends to make the most of it in the coming weeks.
"I hadn't raced since Critérium International, but I have to say that my form is not bad at all," the 27 year-old said on the Giro's first rest day back in Italy. "It's true that I was disappointed not to have won the first day's time trial, because I had really dreamed of that pink jersey. But I remain optimistic. I feel good and in stage three, the one that ended in Namur, I was in front with those who were fighting for the victory [Gutierrez finished eighth - ed.]. Maybe I should have gone with Rubiera when he attacked, but often just one moment of hesitation is fatal and costs you the victory! Maybe I could have caught them afterwards, but there was Bettini and the others behind me and as nobody wanted to lead, there was nothing much I could do."
Gutierrez hopes that there will be other opportunities for him in the Giro. "That's racing!" he continued. "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The most important thing is to be part of that small circle of riders who can actually go for it. I have no doubt that my time will come. It's still a long time before we get to Milan, and there will be that 50km-individual time trial in Pontedera on May 18 - it's on a circuit that suits my characteristics, and I will totally concentrate on that once the team time trial is over."
Asked which goals he had for the team race against the clock after the rest day, Gutierrez replied, "Maybe we're not the favourites on paper, but I'm still certain that we will be amongst the first." The Spaniard and his whole team reconnoitred the course on Wednesday, and while Gutierrez already had the opportunity to test the team's new TT bikes by Pinarello on stage one, all of his companions will be riding the new equipment on Thursday. "It's great to have the new bikes now - the only inconvenience is that my teammates will use it in the race without having the time to adapt to it."
Looking further ahead into the season, Gutierrez didn't hide his biggest dream as a cyclist: the Time Trial World's. "I know I have the capacity to win it one day, and I will not be satisfied until I do it in the pro category, just as a did 1999 in Treviso as an amateur," he said.