“My Paris-Nice starts tomorrow,” Davide Formolo gallantly told Cyclingnews as he lined up for Thursday’s stage 5. Sitting 16th at 2:18 behind race leader, Julian Alaphilippe, the young Italian was Cannondale Drapac’s best hope for a respectable position on GC.
Stage 5 was supposed to be an intermission within the action as the race pivoted towards the mountains but any hope of an easy day for Formolo were dashed when he crashed in the cross-winds. He finished the stage safely in the bunch but with his kit ripped and skin lost, it remains to be seen as to how he can perform in the first mountain stage on Friday.
“I was pretty happy with the performance in the time trial,” the Italian had told Cyclingnews the morning before his crash.
“I didn’t lose too much time in the time trial and for tomorrow it’s a different race. On paper the profiles look hard and they’re long stages. Our race starts tomorrow. We take each stage as it comes and at the end of the race we just want to look back and say that we’ve done our best. If that means a result on GC or a stage, we will see.”
Cannondale – on paper at least – have a team more suited to the climbs than the flats. Pierre Rolland is looking for stage wins, while Michael Woods is hoping to make up for what he has admitted was a disappointing ride at the Tour Down Under.
“We’ve a really good team for mountains and we’re a team of climbers. We’ll stay relaxed and try and follow the leaders,” Formolo said.
The young Italian had ridden well during the opening few days at Paris-Nice. The first two stages were marked by heavy rain and cross-winds and provided Formolo with his first taste of echelons.
“This was my first time racing in echelons. I looked at all the big riders, trying to learn how they race in the wind and I’m happy with that,” he said.
With Formolo’s condition somewhat unknown after his fall the focus could shift further towards Rolland. The Frenchman had a poor first season at Cannondale with crashes and bad luck factoring into his results. He failed to win a race, only picking up a handful of top-10 results. This season he has been released from GC responsibilities, with the hope that he can succeed in a ‘free’ role. The final three stages of the race provide the perfect chance for him to kick-start his season as the bunch are unlikely to chase him down.
“We’ve got a nice team for the rest of the race,” Charly Wegelius told Cyclingnews. “The first year with us, Pierre concentrated on GC and that’s a very slow burning process, to try and hit the right form. It’s a really anonymous way of racing and if something goes wrong then you’re pretty quickly left with nothing.”