Two years after it was initially planned, the Giro d'Italia will get underway in Budapest, Hungary on Friday. It's the 14th time the Grand Tour has started outside of Italy but not all of the riders were impressed. Trek-Segafredo's Bauke Mollema said the whole trip has been "a pain in the ass".
"I don't really have a Giro feeling yet. I've only been here one day," Mollema said in a pre-race press conference according to Wielerflits. "After the team presentation later today, I expect to have a bit more feeling."
Teams travelled from their usual base to the historic city for three stages before transferring to Sicily on Monday.
"This whole trip is a pain in the ass, I find it quite disturbing that we don't start in Italy and have to fly after three days," Mollema said.
"The rest day is also not a real rest day, because you have to travel. Flying on Sunday evening would have been nicer, but we don't do that until Monday morning. I will be happy when we are in Italy."
The 35-year-old could be excused for being grumpy about the whole affair, as he is still suffering the effects of being brought down in the same crash in Liège-Bastogne-Liège that took world champion Julian Alaphilippe out of action.
"The last two weeks I felt as stiff as an old man. My back hurt quite a bit, but there were also problems with my ribs and knee," he said, adding that he was confident of his form before Liège and hopes he will be able to win a stage.
Although Mollema landed on the podium of the Vuelta a España in 2011 and has won stages of the Tour de France and Vuelta, he is leaving the general classification aspirations to younger teammate Giulio Ciccone and looking to get into breakaways.
"Getting into breakaways is less stressful than fighting for GC. I'm looking forward to that. I'm also ready for it, although we have to wait and see how the legs are. But it is still too early to say which stages are suitable for breakaways."
Ciccone has had bad luck in his last three Grand Tours, and in 2021 got as high as fourth overall and took second on the Giro d'Italia stage to Campo Felice before crashing out. He was close to a top 10 in the Vuelta a España, too, before a crash on stage 16 took him out.
"Ciccone is going for a good classification," Mollema said. "Last year he was also high up a few days from the end, until he dropped out. He can do that again."
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