Küng shines in the rain
Stefan Küng (BMC) made a surprise break towards the end of the rain-soaked stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia. After working on the front for much of the race, Küng struck out with three laps of the finishing circuit remaining in an attempt to bridge across to the leaders up the road. The Swiss rider got within 40 seconds of the leaders before he was eventually pulled back by the peloton.
"It is always good when you have a few guys who can join you," Küng said. “I made the descent and I was alone and they (the sport directors) said to keep going. The other guys had to work from behind, so our leaders were able to sit up a bit. On this lap, it was very hard when you were alone. You had to keep pushing all the time and that’s why I was caught back."
BMC set their stall out early on, monitoring the front of the peloton throughout the hilly stage and hoping to set up Philippe Gilbert for a shot at victory. The other teams were happy to capitalise on BMC’s efforts and it was only when Küng launched his move that the other teams took charge of the chase.
"We rode offensively and we wanted to have a chance to play for the victory but in the end it was quite hard. When the GC guys go, none of us is able to follow for the victory. We came very close to them but we didn’t really know what to do because we were scared that the other guys would profit from our work."
Fischer honours Senna
During yesterday’s stage 11 to the Imola Motorsport track, Murilo Fischer (FDJ) chose to honour former F1 driver Ayrton Senna with a special helmet. Senna was killed in an accident during the opening laps of the Imola Grand Prix in 1994.
Fischer, the only Brazilian riding at WorldTour level, wore a helmet modelled on the same colour scheme that Senna used on his own racing helmet. Some 21 years after his death, Senna remains a national hero in his home nation and is considered one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time.
Kruijswijk on the attack again
Steven Kruijswijk has been one of the more active riders in the peloton, getting himself into the break three of the last four stages. After racking up the kilometres in the escape, the LottoNL-Jumbo rider looked like he was struggling towards the end of stage 11 but he held on to finish sixth and gain himself a handful of seconds in the overall classification.
"I always end up in the front of the pack on such a climb," Kruijswijk said. "When they try to attack, following is the best choice. You need to have a superb day to win the stage. I didn’t have it today, which meant I had to gamble. The Giro is hard. I’m just trying to take my chance. Next week there will be more stages that will suit me better than today."
Nevertheless, the team were left happy with the Dutchman’s form. "This was another confirmation of Steven’s form. Every rider in the leading group was a strong man. That proves that it isn’t easy to be part of it," said sports director Frans Maassen.
"The first ten riders in the general classification are holding each other tight. The strong men just behind them are getting a little more space to attack and they take more initiative too. But you have to be strong enough, of course."
Tour of Austria with new course and extra stage
The Tour of Austria has expanded to nine stages this year, and its new course will visit each of the Alpine nation’s nine states. The race, which runs from July 4-12, opens with a team time trial in the capital city of Vienna in the east and closes in Bregenz in the western part of the country.
The HC-ranked race covers a total of 1,471.3 kilometres and 19,053 climbing meters. The first stage is a 5.3 km team time trial in Vienna, which will be ridden on normal bikes and not time trial bikes, due to the city’s tram tracks.
Climbing starts on the fifth stage, with a mountaintop finish at Gratwein Dobratsch. But the serious mountains come on the seventh stage when, for the first time, the peloton will climb both the Grossglockner and Kitzbüheler Horn, both HC, in one stage.
The race ends with a final stage featuring three cat. 1 climbs on the way from Innsbruck to Bregenz, on the shores of Lake Constance.