Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) was stuck in the traffic at the top of Terminillo but was still smiling after holding onto third place overall, 1:51 behind Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana).
Basso and teammate Vincenzo Nibali lost two minutes on the dirt roads on Saturday, with Nibali dropping out of the pink jersey. But they looked comfortable on climb to Terminillo and were confident after the first mountain finish of the Giro.
"It was a tough stage because we went hard all day but the climb to Terminillo is fast and so it was difficult for anyone to get away," Basso told Cyclingnews. "We're happy though, we've improved our position overall and we've shown we're strong.
"After the first week of racing, I think everyone is about equal after moments of good and bad luck with crashes and punctures. That's
cycling and things like that happen in three-week stage races. We've still got two weeks to race, with a lot of hard stages to go, so we're okay."
When Nibali had the maglia rosa, it seemed that he would overshadow Basso as team leader at Liquigas-Doimo. Now they are closer in the general classification, it is not clear who will eventually go on to lead the team in the fight for the pink jersey. For now, Basso insists they can share leadership in the team.
"There's been a lot of talk about how me and Vincenzo can or can't both compete for the pink jersey," Basso said.
"But we're actually very compatible. He's fairly young and inexperienced, while I'm getting old and have experienced trying to win the Giro and Tour de France several times. Because of that there isn’t any competition between us because we're from two different generations. If he shows that he's the strongest, I'll totally back him up and vice-versa.
"I hope people noticed yesterday that in a difficult moment, I opted to wait and drop back to wait for him so that we could ride together and limit the time we lost. I helped him when we needed power and he helped me on the more technical descents. I think that meant we limited the time we lost.
"In the crash we lost about a minute and a half but we only finished two minutes down. That means we only lost 30 seconds in 30km of hard racing. If we hadn't worked well together, we would have lost a lot more and been more tired for today. That shows the strength of the Liquigas team at the Giro. "
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