By Gregor Brown in Plan de Corones
"There is no doubt it is spectacular, but it is just a circus now," stated Britain's David Millar to Cyclingnews after his run up the Plan de Corones ski slope. The 31 year-old of Slipstream rode the 12.9-kilometre Giro d'Italia stage from San Vigilio di Marebbe in a time of 46'48", 6'22" behind winner Franco Pellizotti, but was concerned with the overall difficulties of the Italian Grand Tour.
The 91st Giro d'Italia started off in Italy's south, on the island of Sicilia, and it was marked by a first week of long transfers and sketchy roads, made worse by inclement weather. The finale of the three-week races is not letting up: the race has entered its first high-mountains stages, including three days in the Dolomites – Alpe di Pampeago, Passo Fedaia and Plan de Corones.
"Yes, definitely," Millar responded, when asked if the Plan de Corones mountain time trial stage was too much of a show. "You can do this stage one off, but not after the two mountain stages we had just done and the first week we did. It is the combination of everything that is getting to us. It is a good idea to do spectacular stuff like this, but not day in and day out, day in and day out."
Slipstream and many other teams face long drives off of the mountain passes to reach their hotels, and today, on Plan de Corones, the riders took the cable car to arrive back down at the Passo Furcia. "We got to our hotel at 8:30 last night, and that is about the norm." The US-based team is doing the four-hour transfer to Sondrio tomorrow, on the Giro d'Italia's second rest day.
Millar had a satisfactory ride. "I was using it as training, with a serious warm-up, trying to replicate it. ... You don't really see it, but it is so hard." The last time he can remember such an event was the 2003 Vuelta a España, when he raced up the Alto de Abantos.