In surging through on the uphill sprint finish on the fifth stage of the Tour of Turkey on Thursday, Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) removed a hefty weight from his shoulders. It was the Italian’s first victory of the year and served as a timely confidence boost ahead of the Giro d’Italia.
"This year I’ve come here [to Turkey] to prepare for the Giro d’Italia but I also wanted to win so I would go there with a good mentality knowing that I was strong," said the upbeat 27-year-old after his win.
"I’ve been good since January but I haven’t managed to get the win but my preparation has been good and today is the confirmation."
His frustration with the way his campaign has panned out so far is understandable. In the previous two years he got off the mark at the first race on his calendar – the Tour de San Luis – and by this stage last year he already had six wins to his name. This season, though, things haven’t worked out quite as well, despite a string of top 10s, including fourth and second in the first two stages in Turkey.
"I wanted this because in January in Argentina I was up against [Fernando] Gaviria who was a surprise and [Mark] Cavendish and since then I haven’t really been in the sprints," said Modolo.
"In Tirreno [Adriatico] I fell in the first stage so I wasn’t there, then at [Three days of] De Panne I started getting back into the sprints. In Turkey I wanted to be there. Today I got the win and it gives me confidence going into the Giro."
The victory is not just uplifting in terms of boosting confidence and relieving pressure – it showed Modolo that his form is right where he wants it to be. And at exactly the right time, too, with the Giro getting underway on May 9.
"I like this win because I didn’t beat sprinters, I beat guys who are good on the climbs and to do that you have to have good legs," he said. "Sprinters are not normally in the top ten on this stage so it really proved that I’m here, finally."
Modolo hasn’t yet decided whether or not he’ll be riding the Tour de France but will take stock after the Giro and the Tour de Suisse.