Moreno Moser (Cannondale) heads to Italy during Monday's first rest day of the Giro d'Italia in sixth place overall, only 21 seconds down on new race leader Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep) and knowing he has an excellent chance of taking the pink jersey after the rolling stage to Praia a Mare on Tuesday or Wednesday's stage to Benevento near Naples.
Moser finished an impressive sixth in the opening time trial on Friday and then rode well to avoid losing any time to his rivals on the two tense road stages to Arnhem and Nijmegen that ended in sprints. Kittel picked up 20 bonus seconds for his victories but Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) lost time and slipped down the overall classification.
"If we look at the classification, all the riders who were better placed than me in the time weight at least 10kg more than me, that means I did a good ride in terms of power to weight," Moser argued when talking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, hinting that he is hoping to secure a place in the Italian team for the hilly Olympic time trial.
"I'm always pretty good in short time trials. I was hoping for a place in the top ten but after my ride I can be disappointed not to have finished in the top five. I went for it, without worrying about numbers, power or anything. I was close to 60km/h and only faded in the middle part."
Moser is part of a strong Cannondale team that is captained by Rigoberto Uran and also includes road captain Simon Clarke, 2015 stage winner Davide Formolo and the USA's Joe Dombrowski. The Cannondale green train was often seen at the front of the peloton, riding together to protect Uran and Moser.
Moser and Cannondale know they have an excellent shot at taking the pink jersey and reviving Moser's career in the early stages in southern Italy. Moser joined Cannondale when the Italian version of the team merged with Jonathan Vaughters Slipstream set-up. He has shown flashes of his talent, with some interesting results but his last victory was a stage at the 2015 Tour of Austria, coming two years after he won Strade Bianche. Despite this, several teams are keen to reportedly keen to sign him for 2017, including Astana, Dimension Data and Bora-Argon 18.
Moser knows that a spell in the pink jersey will help get his career back on track.
"I want to try to stay high up overall for as long as I can," he explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "In Italy there could be a chance to do something."
Moser is hoping to gain a few seconds on the hilly stages in the south of Italy and so take the pink jersey from Kittel. He needs to move past Dumoulin, Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) but the pink jersey is within his grasp.
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