Honestly, those two wins have come at a right time of the season. It was my first time at the Tour of Croatia, and it was a lucky one: two successful sprints, one second place, and the points classification’s jersey. Two finishes of those I like – technical, curvy…
We scratched that zero from the “season victories” box, and that’s all good. But Croatia was precious also for different reasons: we wanted to test ourselves in the sprints, get used to the big distances ahead of the Giro d’Italia, to lube our mechanisms when it came to controlling the race. We managed to do all of that, winning three stages in a process – including the one claimed by my teammate Riccardo Zoidl – and there could have been one more (both for me and the team)… it was a matter of centimeters. But we can’t complain.
On Friday and Saturday I made the last two long trainings before leaving, headed to the Netherlands for the Giro start, to happen next Friday. I am coming to it the way I wanted: I got the racing days under my belt, the condition, the right kilometers in the legs, and also the right morale, boosted by the two recent wins. Anyway, my attitude does not change, nor my motivation is affected a slight bit: I won, and I want more wins. At the Giro d’Italia.
The team is confident in that, and so am I. In order to manage the feat, I will have three valuable helpers in Boy Van Poppel, Eugenio Alafaci and Marco Coledan. Our GC leader will be Ryder Hesjedal, who will count on some men to help him on the mountains too: in the toughest stages, I will make my part for him too. And I will do so eagerly, since I found a great person in Ryder, and we really created a great relationship. A three-week race means spending almost one month with the same people, “locked” in the same old loop: hotel – bus – start – finish – bus – hotel. If there’s no harmony in that group, in the end you are going to suffer it as the days come by. But I think there will be a good atmosphere in the Trek-Segafredo team at the Giro d’Italia.
Several people are asking me: would you rather win a Giro stage, as you haven’t yet, or reclaim the Red Jersey you already got? Truth is that if you are aiming for the red jersey you need to fight for stage wins, so one thing contributes to the other. Actually, I am a curious person, so I would love to experience the feeling of raising arms under a Giro d’Italia finish banner. On the other hand, the red jersey comes after three weeks of hard fights: you need to go for the stages, but also come through the mountains, facing routes that don’t suit you a bit, and resist even when you have a bad day, and your body seems to suggest you the way back home. Last year, I only realized the real value and meaning of the jersey after clinching it.
I don’t want to choose, indeed. But for the next month or so, I will see only red. Just like a Taurus. I am an Aquarius indeed, but who cares.