Yesterday's Giro d'Italia stage from Amsterdam to Middleburg was another testing journey for the Lampre-Farnese Vini squad. Damiano Cunego was caught in a bunch that trailed the maglia rosa for a long time, Alessandro Petacchi suffered an ill-timed puncture while Danilo Hondo missed out on a podium spot.
As expected, the wind and narrow roads of the Netherlands made for tough racing and Lampre's riders suffered the full effects of both. With 75km remaining they had to ride hard to get Cunego back in touch with the peloton, an effort that took 40km; behind them Petacchi was chasing to recover from a puncture that put him out of contention for the sprint.
Directeur sportif Fabrizio Bontempi explained the bad luck that hit his team on several fronts and the circumstances that conspired to batter the squad, much like the wind did to all riders during the 224km journey next to the North Sea.
"We knew it was going to be a tough stage, so we asked our riders to be together in case of troubles and it's what they did when Damiano had problems," said Bontempi. "The team performed a good chase but the bad luck hit us again immediately again with Petacchi's puncture; [Marco] Marzano was ready to give Alessandro his wheel, since it was impossible to reach them by car because of the narrow streets.
"The chase was performed with a huge effort, but our riders were very tired and HTC-Columbia raised the pace at the head of the race. When we understood that Petacchi could not join the head of the race, Hondo became our man for the sprint - Danilo gave his best using his remaining energies and he obtained a good fourth place."
Petacchi explained that not only bad luck bothered him during the stage, but illness had also started to rear its ugly head. "Yesterday I made a mistake, but today the bad luck stopped me. I had a puncture in the worst moment and I could not do anything else than try a very difficult chase. I hope that the beginning of bronchitis that gave me trouble since this morning will be better [tomorrow]," he said.
Cunego summed up the day most succinctly, saying, "What a difficult stage. Wind, crashes and big chaos; because of all these troubles and the situation I found myself in during the race, I could have lost 10 minutes. Thanks to the support of the team I could join again the head of the race, even if in the final part of the stage a crash stopped me, although I was not involved."