While the team Leopard-Trek also called "Luxembourg Cycling Project" doesn't have any other rider from the grand duchy than the Schleck brothers, Alberto Contador can count on Laurent Didier to escort him at the Giro d'Italia. The son of Lucien Didier knows what is required to be a domestique as his father was doing the same job for Bernard Hinault 30 years ago.
In his second pro season, Didier is also taking part in the Giro for the second time. Last year, he accompanied Richie Porte in the long-lasting breakaway of stage 11 to L'Aquila and was ninth on GC until stage 13. "We started the Giro with no captain but Richie became the one," the Luxembourger remembered on the start line of stage 12 in Castelfidardo. "He wore the pink jersey for three days and it already gave me a bit of the feeling of what has to be done for a race leader, so it's not exactly new to me this year with Alberto."
"The hardest part of the job is the one people don't see on TV," he told Cyclingnews. "It's at the beginning of every stage when we have to control who goes in breakaways. That was a particularly complicated task yesterday on stage 12. But even the days before Alberto took the pink jersey, we had to be attentive at every attack and make sure that no one potentially dangerous on GC was in there. Every day, when our work is done, we're asked to take it easy and reach the finishing line with the concern of keeping as much energy as we can for the day after."
"Contador is a great captain to have," Didier said. "He's very good at motivating the team to work for him. Talking about the team, it's not only the nine riders who are here competing in the Giro but the 25 members of the team for the whole season."
As he was contracted with Saxo Bank-SunGard, Didier didn't follow the Schlecks at Leopard-Trek but stayed with Bjarne Riis. "His dedication to the team is formidable," noted sports director Philippe Mauduit. "He's composed and controlled, hardworking and intelligent. He's a rider who knows the road book by heart before the start of every stage. He's not explosive but long suffering. He improves day after day although we were a bit scared to line him up at the Giro after the two crashes he had."
The 26-year-old who completed his university degree as an engineer in Aachen, Germany, before turning pro crashed at the Amstel Gold Race and opted for riding the Tour of Turkey – where he crashed again during stage 5 – instead of the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He still looks affected by injuries. "I've had five stitches and a lot of pain in my left hamstring," he said. "He told us that he still wanted to do Giro, we trust him and we don't regret it," Mauduit said.
Being on a totally different race program, Didier has hardly met Fränk and Andy Schleck this year. "I live one hour away from them and even in Majorca, we missed each other," he said.
"When I was there, they were at home and vice versa. It's my duty to do my job at the service of my team and Contador," said Didier.