Giro d'Italia: We've started

Reto Hollenstein (Team NetApp)

Reto Hollenstein (Team NetApp) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The first blog is from Swiss rider Reto Hollenstein. The 26-year-old is, like many of his teammates, making his first start in a Grand Tour.

Giro d'Italia – We've gotten started

On Wednesday we set out for the Giro d'Italia. On the day we arrived there wasn't really a Giro feeling – everyone was really relaxed and laid back.

The next day we had our team presentation and it was just awesome! We rode our bikes through a narrow street for the first few meters, a crowd of thousands of people on the left and right, and then we headed for the stage. It was then that I realized that it wasn't a dream, but that I was really starting in the world's second largest race.

The opening time trial was pretty demanding with lots of curves, changes in direction and – at the end – some pretty strong wind. The atmosphere in Herning and along the entire route was excellent. Some people were even dancing! I was fairly satisfied with my race. I had a few small technical mistakes, but otherwise things went really well.

The first real stage was pretty nerve wracking – there were lots of crashes, but thankfully we were spared. Unfortunately Schorni had a defect shortly before the finish line, but Timon and Matthias came in 11th and 14th – a respectable performance.

On the third day I rode in the lead group of the day for 160 kilometers, but unfortunately we didn't prevail. But if you don't try, you can't win!
It was still a good race for me and my team. We were able to show that we are contenders.

In the sprint Schorni then came in 14th after barely escaping a fall. There's a thin line between luck and misfortune – one time you have a lead in the sprint and the next time you crash and the race is over for you. We were lucky, but unfortunately we were again shy of making the top 10.

At the same time, I am certain that we will still manage to achieve this goal here! I can thus draw a positive conclusion from the first three stages in Denmark – three times in the top 15 is a good debut for us.

After we showered, buses came to pick us up and took us to the airport. Two entire airplanes were rented for all of the riders and the Giro staff. We arrived at the hotel in Verona around 10 p.m. The transfer to Italy went really smoothly.

Things weren't quite as comfortable for our physical therapists and mechanics since they rode with the entire fleet and materials for 1,500 kilometers. Luckily everyone arrived safely. I really respect their commitment and stamina. In addition to the human factor, for riders it is crucial that the team behind the team works perfectly.

I was really glad to have a day to rest after my long attack and the transfer to Italy. After all, I want to arrive in Milan ;-)

Yours, Reto

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Many observers were surprised when Team NetApp received a wildcard invitation to the Giro d'Italia. After all, the team didn't have any wins at all in 2011, its first year at the Professional Continental level. But this year the team has broken through, taking three wins already.

It is now happily making its Grand Tour debut, and the riders on the team will take turns recording their impressions of mixing it up with the big boys in one of the biggest races in the cycling world.