The second entry is from Polish rider Bartosz Huzarski. The 31-year-old rider, looks back at his team's performances as the Giro crossed into Italy following the opening stages in Denmark.
Video: Team NetApp "Against all Odds" at Giro d'Italia
Reto [Hollenstein] reported on the three stages in Denmark, and now I'd like to tell you a little about the first few days in Italy.
After a rest day, things got started again with a team time trial in Verona. After our win at the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, a lot of people were expecting us to do very well. But the course here was a lot more difficult, twice as long and the competition much tougher. Of course we gave it our best, but we weren't entirely satisfied with the result.
We did manage to stick together until the final kilometer, but we started off the race a little too slow and lost some valuable seconds as a result, which knocked us down a few spots in the end. The middle part of the course was quite difficult, which is why we wanted to save some energy – and we had the third-best time there.
We also didn't want to make the same mistake we made at the Giro del Trentino. There, we rode too fast and lost three riders. Having several riders in front of you while riding on straight, wide sections makes a big difference because that way you don't have to ride out front in the wind as much. In any case, hindsight is always 20/20, but 13th place was just fine.
Then, the next day, there was a sprint stage and we supported our fast rider, Daniel [Schorn]. He was in really good shape, and on all the hills he was among the first 15 riders. In the final section we placed him right behind GreenEdge, but unfortunately he was blocked in during the sprint. It's always difficult when you're feeling good and then in the end you can't achieve anything. But there are still a few more flat stages and he'll no doubt take advantage of the opportunities.
For us, the sixth stage was the highlight of the Giro thus far. Cesare [Benedetti] finished in fifth place in that difficult race, and I'm very happy for him! He's such a nice, friendly guy and always a loyal helper during a race. He really deserved it. None of us had even dared to finish in the top 5 before! But of course I hope that that won't be the end of our climb up the ladder….
The next stage also went well for the team. Reto was in the breakaway group the entire day. Even if you don't have a good chance to break through, you still always have to take your chances! And because he's now leading in the Breakaway Classification, there was a bit more money for the team's coffers.
For me personally, the race was important because I noticed that I could keep up with the first group. I only had to let them go during the final kilometers. It was clear to me that I couldn't achieve anything more that day. I preferred to save some energy for the next day – and everything turned out well with that tactic.
I knew that the eighth stage would suit me well and – as long as I survived until the end – I could have a good sprint in a smaller group. At first everything was working out well and I was riding for third place in the sprint. I was directly on [Rigoberto] Uran's (Team Sky) rear wheel when he rode right into the wind. I don't think he was expecting so much wind. In any case, he slowed down and I had to brake and then speed up again. Looking back, it's quite annoying that I didn't start sprinting sooner.
But then I got a message from a friend in Poland saying that I was only the ninth Polish rider in history to finish among the top 10 in a stage at the Giro. So I should be quite proud of that. My goal for the rest of the tour is to hold on to my standing in the general classification for as long as possible. I'll just have to take it day by day to see how it goes. The Giro is very unpredictable!