Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow was in Livigno at the end of stage 14, where he spoke to some very tired bike riders.
Charly Wegelius (Liquigas-Bianchi, 27th at 7'39)
How do you feel after two tough days in a row? "Terrible."
Did you expect Di Luca to be a GC contender. "No."
How do you see yourself? "Alright."
Brett Lancaster (Panaria, 82nd at 41'40)
Brett finished slightly ahead of the gruppetto after bombing the day's final descent into Livigno with a few other riders. "I've just been cruising all day, a lot better than yesterday," he said. "I've gotta get up there for the sprints now. That's the hardest stuff out of the way. And then a rest day.
"I'm bloody hungry!" [Rides off in search of food]
Henk Vogels (Davitamon-Lotto, 150th at 42'59)
"I'm stuffed man. Seven and a half hours on a bike over one of the biggest climbs I've ever done in my life. Over 15 hours of riding in two days. But Milan's getting closer.
How's the knee? "Both knees are sore now, but I think it's just from the distance. It's been a huge effort and my knees have been killing me. I don't even know what to say man, I'm delirious."
Matt Wilson and Mark Renshaw (Francaise des Jeux, 155th and 111th at 42'59)
We spoke to Matt Wilson and Mark Renshaw at dinner on Sunday evening, and they were a bit more lucid. "The last two days have been really tough," said Wilson. "The terrain was so tough, no matter how well you're going, it's just hard for everyone. It's also very unusual in a grand tour to get two tough stages in a row. They are definitely the two hardest stages we'll face in this year's Giro.
"I actually struggled a bit today. I had an achilles problem and it started flaring up. I just got myself in survival mode just to get through it."
We reminded Mark Renshaw of his comment that yesterday that was the toughest day: "Well, I've just had the two toughest days I've ever had on a bike. Over 10,000 metres of climbing, 14 hours on the bike. I'm really KO'd."
Renshaw's specialty is the track, so this is a little bit different: "Yeah, not bad for a trackie. I know there's a lot of tough stuff to come. I got through this, so I think I can finish it. It's great for my future. It's a tough grounding but it can help set me off for next year. I've got a lot more confidence in myself in finishing."
With Stage 15 being a sprinters stage and Tuesday being a rest day, the FDJ boys can look forward to taking it easy over the next couple of days. "We've got four rest days," Matt clarified. "Tomorrow's a sprint day. I've got no sprinter. Then the rest day, then another sprinter's stage, then a time trial. That's a rest day for me."
"I might have to have a go in that," Mark chimed in.
Wilson added, "We've been lucky with the weather, it's been great. If we'd had a nasty day today, it would have been and extra hour on the bike and 40 more people out of the bike race. It's not just on the climbs where it's heavier and cold, it's also on the descents. These roads have so much rubber on them, you get them wet and they are really treacherous."
Trent Wilson (Colombia-Selle Italia, 157th at 42'59)
When we spoke to Trent in the morning, he was suffering from his crash towards the end of Saturday's stage, which left him with a swollen foot and aches all over his body. But he survived the 14th stage...just.
"Mate, I was going up the Stelvio, and I was seriously thinking I was having a bad dream. Last night, I woke up six or seven times, with sore bones, muscles, everything, from the crash and just the tour in general. I thought I was dreaming. I've never been in so much pain in all my life, and I never thought I'd get over the Stelvio, let alone finish the stage.
"I know I'm having a well deserved beer now, but gee I really did struggle today. I went out the back on the first climb with a big group, but we got back on. But then on the flat section, I was going out the back. I was in the convoy three or four times and I thought, 'how am I going to get over the Stelvio?' Got to the Stelvio, got in the gruppetto, but I was on and off the whole time in the convoy. The descent was alright but then to get to Livigno, I was in and out of the convoy. I spent more time in the convoy than in the actual bunch. I think the directors were getting sick of looking at my backside.
"Let's hope tomorrow is just a nice sunny day, just cruise into the finish. Then rest day Tuesday, if I could get through today, I can do anything, I can jump through walls."
Russell Van Hout (Colombia-Selle Italia, 158th at 42'59)
"Today I was a lot better," said Russell. "The last couple of times I crossed the line in those mountain days, I've been absolutely finished. That day when I had to chase down to the time limit almost ruined me. I reckon I'm just getting over it. Today I just climb a lot easier, I had a better rhythm, and I knew it was a good group. I was pretty happy we didn't have to race up the Stelvio. I was actually checking out some of the scenery with Rory."
You could have done that yesterday? "No way. My teeth were stuck into the headstem."
"Today was a lot better. I'm still really sore in the legs and that, but when I looked around today, I saw that two thirds of the bunch were hurting like me and that made me feel better. I got through today quite comfortably, so I have another rest day cruising in the middle of the bunch tomorrow, then a rest day Tuesday. I'd like to have another attack on Wednesday though."
What about the time trial? "Nope, I don't think I've got the legs to do a time trial. But if I can get in another breakaway that'd be nice. Hopefully I can have a good day Wednesday because it goes through the town I used to live in [Novi Ligure]. I'd like to go up the road because I have a lot of fans in that town. I'd like to go well."
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