Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma QuickStep) reminded everyone of his attacking qualities when he helped form part of the 13-man break on stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia from Cordenons – Montasio. The 29-year-old jumped clear of the peloton during the opening kilometres of the race and established a lead in excess of 8 minutes.
The stage marked the first Giro mountain skirmishes in this year’s race and QuickStep, which already have two stage wins in the bank courtesy of Mark Cavendish, were keen to start the second week on the front foot.
When breakaway companion Jackson Rodriguez upped the pace on the Passo Cason di Lanza, Pauwels was unable to respond immediately but on the following descent the former Sky and Cervelo TestTeam rider made contact after Rodriguez was forced to change bikes.
“I definitely wanted to be in the break,” Pauwels said. “The problem was it was headwinds in the beginning so it was a lot of attacking and the peloton always coming back. Then finally I got in the good break and OK, we took six or seven minutes. After the first climb, Rodriguez went and he took advantage but I came back with Gatto after the descent.”
The pair headed to the bottom of the final climb with their advantage down to under two minutes as Sky set a frantic pace in the peloton and with under 10 kilometres remaining Pauwels and Rodriguez were swept up with the Belgian finishing a creditable 41st, 9’46 down on stage winner Rigoberto Uran.
“Sky really put pressure on the rest. In the end we are dependent on what happens in the back, especially when the big GC riders start to pull. Because honestly I think Sky started to pull on the first climb to make up time for the descent. They were thinking also about the stage, but first objective was they wanted to start the descent in the front to show their presence.”