Ten stages gone, eleven to go. It’s not a perfect half, but we can say that we are halfway through the Corsa Rosa. Just about moment to look behind and make some considerations on how things have unfolded so far.
It’s a wide open Giro, with a number of riders still having a shot at the Maglia Rosa. For me, it’s not a matter of “levelling”, but it’s rather due to the fact that the race has still its best part ahead of it. The stages finishing in Roccaraso and Sestola were not enough to make big differences, and the wet time trial did not show the real strenghts of the protagonists. I think we will see a more reliable classification after the Corvara stage, and we hope that our Ryder Hesjedal will also factor in the top positions.
Ryder gave up something more than his opponents in the early going, but we know that he usually fares best in the third week. In Chianti he rode a solid time trial, and I believe in his chances to secure a top-5 spot: the next few days will tell what his actual ambitions will be.
In Trek-Segafredo we are down to seven riders, and that’s not the best scenario. In addition to Fabian Cancellara, whose health issues affected all his ambitions in the time trials, we also lost my setup man Boy Van Poppel in the stage ending in Arezzo. Also he had to fight against sickness, and did it with courage, biting the bullet until the finish banner, though the time limit eventually put him out of the race. I was impressed with the way Boy handled his tough day: after Saturday, I respect him even more than before.
Finally the sprints, that have confirmed something we already knew: if the German “panzers” don’t make mistakes, it’s very hard to see them off in a power sprint. For a rider like me, weighing ten kilos less, it’s practically impossible to unleash the same watt power. On the other hand, except for the first sprint in the Netherlands, I always managed to put myself in contention: too bad for the Benevento stage, when Taaramae’s crash in the final kilometer took me out of the game when I was well positioned, in a stage that was definitely suited to me.
In the final ten days of the race, I can see three or four opportunities for the sprinters, and I remain confident in my chances to grab a stage win, that is our main goal. And then there’s also the run for the red jersey, in the hope for a repeat. And many, many climbs… where we will have to hold on.