By John Trevorrow in Cuneo
Stuart O'Grady was pulling hard in stage 15 leading up to Prato Nevoso. He was part of CSC's game plan to take over the yellow jersey. The idea was to make the race fast in the flat part and then attack the opponents on the climb.
O'Grady was visibly pleased with the way things worked out. "It was a great day for the team. We had a plan, we put it into action, and it worked perfectly. I am looking forward to seeing the footage of the final climb. I hear Andy's ride was something special."
O'Grady also indicated how well he felt within CSC. "This is a great team, a team that will do everything for each other. I am looking forward to being a part of the action over the next few days, but not on the mountains..." O'Grady will continue to be pulling strongly at the front on the flatter parts of the route. Then he will hope that Carlos Sastre, Fränk and Andy Schleck can repeat the same performance, maybe with even bigger time gains.
New race leader Fränk Schleck (CSC-Saxo Bank) confirmed the game plan to Cyclingnews. "Yes, Stuey was not pulling your leg for a change. The plan was set and we put it in place. We rode very well as a team. With Stuart lifting the tempo as we approached the final climb, then Fabian [Cancellara], Jens [Voigt] and Kurt [Arvesen] keeping the pace very high into the early part of the mountain, it put pressure on all the contenders. Then Andy just took it up another notch. I noticed that Evans was more interested in covering me so it was crucial to get Carlos away and try and get that all important second in the final kilometre."
Fränk Schleck praised the team, but was particularly impressed and proud of his younger brother, Andy. "He was the king of the mountain yesterday [Sunday]. It was an awesome ride and he seemed to just step up another gear. It is very special to get your first maillot jaune, and it was a good feeling to show it to all my team-mates. But I gave it to Andy because he really deserved that yellow jersey."
The mastermind behind the yellow jersey coup was Directeur Sportif Scott Sunderland. "It was a well implemented plan. We set it early and the guys all carried it out it perfectly. And it's obvious how we will have to ride over the next two Alpine stages. We cannot defend the jersey as we need to take more time because of the time trialling ability of Cadel Evans and Denis Menchov."
Sunderland was particularly impressed with Rabobank's leader. "I thought Menchov was very good on the final climb and I believe he is the man to beat, even more than Cadel. As soon as I saw he was riding the Giro, I knew he would be the man to beat. He was awesome in the Vuelta last year after riding the Tour."
CSC has shown it is the strongest team in the quest for yellow. They had three riders in the final 10-man group. They are leading the teams classification. They lead the individual classification. They take control of the race when they need to. The part that is left to do is to make sure to get enough time before the final time trial. They have two days to do it.