Just as they did in the Etna stage, this time on Friday’s long grind through the mountains of southern Italy, Ineos Grenadiers were once again one of the few top GC teams prepared to put in the spadework on the biggest climbs to keep their rivals on their toes. And as a strategy, the squad insisted afterwards, things had worked out well.
“This stage was a day about wearing people down,” Rod Ellingworth, deputy team principal at Ineos Grenadiers, told a small group of reporters after the finish of stage 7 in Potenza that featured more than 4,500 metres of climbing, “and we had numbers up there, and everybody was looking good.
“It was a long day, a lot of early climbing, but I think everybody on GC is waiting for the big stage on Sunday.”
The British squad’s Giro leader Richard Carapaz was briefly on the move in the stage’s exceptionally-long spell of early skirmishing, at one point getting in a break with teammate Jhonatan Narváez for roughly eight kilometres according to the official race report.
But once the break of the day had finally settled into shape after a fraught, first 90 kilometres, in the main pack a long line of Ineos Grenadiers racers ensured the pace stayed high.
“It was all about being the break and being the right break,” Ellingworth explained. “I thought it was interesting when Trek were racing behind which was fine for us. It’s all about setting things up for later in the race.
“Morale is good and it’s good to see young Ben Tulett learning the ropes from the older guys on his first Grand Tour, too. That’s perfect for us.”
On the downside for Ineos Grenadiers, according to Ellingworth, team super-domestique Jonathan Castroviejo crashed heavily mid-stage but was able to finish the stage in the grupetto. Possible injuries caused by his crash were only due to be assessed in full this evening.
However, Ellingworth said he had no doubt that the team’s GC leader Carapaz was in fine shape and was ready both for Sunday's ascent of the Blockhaus and the critical second half of the Giro.
“It’s always the last part of the Giro where it all matters, but tomorrow’s [in Naples] nervous and tricky. You can’t really relax on any stage of the Giro. That’s just the way it is.”
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.
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