Sprinters find early climb challenging
Rabobank has lost two riders from the Giro d'Italia already in the first week, and both losses have had a direct impact on young William Walker. Sprinter Graeme Brown and Leon Van Bon have had to drop out with intestinal problems.
Brown's absence affects the young Australian because "My primary role in the team was that of Graeme Brown's helper. Since he is no longer in, we have to try through escapes." Van Bon had written a Giro diary for the team website, rabobank.nl, and now the 20 year-old Walker has taken over authorship.
"That I am the best ranking Rabo cyclist at this point does not mean much to me," he wrote. "I am a part of the team and try to do by work to the best of my abilities. Like today (Sunday). We succeeded in breaking away with a group of 22 and I knew that if I was to stay until the end, I would have no chance of defeating those maniacs in the final sprint. So I tried to get away some five kilometres before the finish line. Unfortunately without success."
The second-year pro sees the Giro as a learning opportunity. "I am still new to the game and I try to learn as much from every moment as I can. Last year's Vuelta was my first introduction to a stage race of these proportions. At that time I was blown away, so to say, by some of the things that happened but I can now more easily put them into perspective.
"You encounter fewer surprises. I must say that, despite my serving role, I get plenty of support from everyone on the team and that they really know how to motivate me. Of course, you must be able to motivate yourself but all help is welcome."
Team Gerolsteiner's Klinger and Förster saw the stage as a hard work day. "As I had feared, there were attacks from the very start -- and, that, even though it was the first climb," wrote Tim Klinger on Radsport-Aktiv.de. "That meant we had to go all out from the very start. I don't like it, though, when it goes directly from 0 to 100. I had to fall back, but was able to join the field again later."
It was not only hard, it was hot. "Especially the heat cost us a lot. It was 30°, but felt more like 50°," said Robert Förster. He knew how to get over the climbs, though. "I oriented myself on Thor Hushovd, he's about my speed in the mountains. We came over quite well and in the descent joined the field again," he wrote on radsport-news.net.
Team Milram was even able to take it a little easy during the stage after the escape group had gotten away. "We quickly noted that the time difference was too great to allow a mass sprint finish. So we saved our strength -- there will be other days, and the Giro goes two more weeks," according to Christian Knees, rad-net.de. "But it was still a taxing day and went by quickly. We weren't riding any slower than the leaders, that's what made the day so difficult. It was so fast today, there wasn't even time to stop and answer the call of nature."
A group containing sprinters Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto), Gabriele Balducci (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) and Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) finished 24 minutes down, just inside the time cut of 28'40". They had been dropped 190 kilometres before, on the ascent of the Passo della Futa, which started at kilometre zero.