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Personal and team highlights at first grand tour of 2014
In his first grand tour, Julian Arredondo won a stage and the mountains classification while Giacomo Nizzolo finished second on four occasions and Robert Kišerlovski capped off the Giro with 10th place overall.
While Nizzolo was desperately close to a maiden grand tour win, it would be the Colombian Arredondo who would break through and claim a first stage win for the team. Having made appearances in several breakaways, on Stage 18 Arredondo was a main instigator in forcing a break as he looked to secure his overall lead in the mountains classification and duly did so as he soloed to a maiden grand tour win.
"I am super happy to win a stage and the blue jersey, but it was not only this," Arredondo said. "As a team we were so united in such a great way and we finished the race with all nine of us. It’s special that we could all experience the whole race all together to the very end — that makes me happy, too. It is very promising for the future.
"For me I made a dream come true. I did what I really, really wanted and what I worked hard for. I was aiming for this from the beginning of the season. Now that I have reached this, I can make new goals. I can say that there are nice things coming up for me and for the team."
While Arredondo was focusing on the maglia azzurra, Kišerlovski as the team's protected GC rider, was looking to improve upon his 10th place overall at the 2010 Giro. The Croatian national champion matched that result and came close to winning stage 8 with a late attack before Diego Ulissi reeled him in and then passed him to claim the win.
"It's good, I am really happy," 27-year-old Kišerlovski said after the Giro’s final stage. "It's good for the future; I am also hoping to do the Vuelta this year. It's really exciting to see the young riders of the team — the new generation — do so well. Me too, I am not so old eh? Every year I have progressed and this year was the best so far.
"I felt strong from the first to the last day. For the first time, I come out of the Giro not completely exhausted. It's going to be interesting in the next years, and I think I am going to be there. For sure."
The team's sporting directors for the first grand tour of 2014 were also pleased by the team's tenacity and consistency from the Grand Partenza in Belfast to the final sprint in Trieste.
"The whole team, staff and riders, showed by the second week that we were working really well as a team," Josu Larrazabal said. "Adriano [Baffi] did a great job from the beginning and it was hard with the travel from Ireland, the bad weather, and all the crashes. When I arrived here [in the second half] I already saw a very good ambience.
"We are one of two teams who have finished the Giro with all nine riders. We do not score points for that but it is a nice signal nonetheless. Not only that we had nine finish, but that they were all still focused and motivated right to the last metre of the race."
For fellow DS, Adriano Baffi, the Giro was also a success and a great learning experience for the young riders.
"I believe this is the best story we could have. We had a meeting with Luca [Guercilena, Team Director] and the team about how this was a great race, a great adventure we did. Honestly with the young team that we have, with not a lot of experience, we did the maximum we could — we really deserve the next days of rest.
"Luca also said it was more than we expected. We finished with nine, we had a great ambiance in the team every day, and we were present in so many stages.