Thanks to Maarten Tjallingii's efforts in the four-man break on stage two, Belkin enjoyed its first podium visit of the 2014 Giro d'Italia. Tjallingii was first over both category four climbs during the stage which ensured that upon finishing, he would be awarded the blue climbers jersey after the 219km stage from Belfast to Belfast. It also made him the first Dutch rider to wear the Giro’s mountains jersey since 2005.
"Tomorrow there will be another chance for a breakaway, so maybe I can get in the group and defend the jersey."
Tjallingii tried to stay away while his breakaway companions were swallowed up and he lasted until 3km to go before he too succumbed to the pace being set by the likes of Giant-Shimano, Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge.
"It was a good performance today by Maarten," Sports Director Frans Maassen said of Tjallingii's ride. "He wanted to try for the breakaway. We knew it would be difficult to win, but he won the climber's jersey, and was caught with only three kilometers to go, so we are happy with that.
"We had no problems with the other boys. We don't have a true sprinter here, but Jetse [Bol] will have his chances in the sprints, even though we're not going to have anyone to help there. It was rainy today, but the team spirit was high. Everyone is excited to be racing."
In 2013 the team was riding the Giro in the hope of attracting a new sponsor after Rabobank withdrew their sponsorship and failed to record a stage win or a podium visit. They also lost Robert Gesink to illness.
"The roads are really good here. Tjallingii wanted to go in the breakaway, and go for the climber's jersey, so it was a good tactic. We are waiting to return to Italy, and that's when the hard stages begin. It's nice to begin here in Ireland, but I like the good weather in Italy."
The third and final stage in Northern Ireland and the Republic is a 187km dash from Armagh to Dublin. The riders will then enjoy a rest day before resuming the race on Italian soil in a short 112km stage from Giovinazzo to Bari.
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