Hello from Milan. This is the end of the road.
Firstly, I have reached my goal to finish the Giro d'Italia. I've completed it! But the past two days prior to today's time trial have been extremely hard. I wanted to do well in stage 19 to l'Alpe di Pampeago because a group of friends came to support me. I managed to stay with the favorites on the Passo Menghen. On the first ascent to l'Alpe di Pampeago, I gritted my teeth, but in the last kilometer, I couldn't follow the rhythm of the best climbers anymore. Not many of them were left when I dropped off. Liquigas rode really strongly over there.
As a team, we at Colnago-CSF have worked in a similar way for Domenico Pozzovivo en route to the Passo dello Stelvio, the mythical climb we had at the end of the Giro d'Italia. We've been seen quite a lot on TV. We thought our captain could do well up there, but he went into a bit of a crisis. However, we're satisfied with what we got during those three weeks of racing: one stage win and one man in the top 10 [eighth], even though at some point into the race, we had hoped for a bit of a higher overall ranking.
We've developed a good image of our team made of young Italian riders. Personally, I wanted to get a bit more in terms of results. As a first timer, I have to be satisfied with my experience at the Giro. At the half way point, our team manager Bruno Reverberi saw me a bit tired after a stage and he suggested that I should not finish the Giro, but I wanted to finish. I knew that it was just a normal state of fatigue because I wasn't used to riding for three weeks in a row. The maximum I had done as an amateur was nine days of racing.
Yesterday, stage 20 to the Passo dello Stelvio seemed like a never ending affair. After I'd done my job for Pozzovivo, I waited for the group of the sprinters and I cruised with them with no problem. In the evenings of the mountain stages, all I knew of the fight between the favorites at the front came from the instructions I heard on the radio when [directeur sportif] Roberto [Reverberi] was giving information to Pozzovivo and [Gianluca] Brambilla [who finished 13th overall]. Later at night, I would look at the images on TV.
I loved the course of stage 19 to l'Alpe di Pampeago. The landscapes were really nice. Probably because we passed that climb twice, there were more tifosi on the roadside. On the Stelvio, most of the fans were cyclists because it was the only way for them to go up. Such a crowd is something that I never experienced as an amateur rider.
As my objective was always to reach Milan, I'm happy that I've done it. With a bit more luck and better legs sometimes, I could have entered a breakaway but most importantly, as a neo pro, this experience will help me for the future. As soon as this coming Saturday, I'll race again at the Melinda Trophy. I also have the Tour of Slovenia and the Italian championship on my agenda in June.
After that, it'll be time to take some rest and gear up for the series of one-day races we have in Italy in August. I want to do well there.
Thanks for supporting me and reading me during the Giro d'Italia. It's been nice to share my experience.
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Enrico Battaglin, 22, is a neo-pro with the Colnago-CSF team. Excited to line up for his first-ever Giro d'Italia and the longest race of his career thus far, Battaglin will test himself over the next three weeks. He'll share his experiences of the 2012 Giro d'Italia with Cyclingnews readers in this blog.
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