Picking up from my previous blog entry, I was heading to Italy for the Giro d’Italia on a high note after winning the time trial at the Tour of Romandie. I started the race off well with top 10 in the prologue and picked up the white jersey for the Best Young Rider – that was a pretty amazing feeling!
When I took the pink jersey it was a strange day with a huge breakaway - that kind of stuff just doesn’t happen! There were a lot of guys who realistically could have taken the jersey. There was a lot of horsepower at the front going all day. There was no doubt it was a lucky move, but the strange part about it was that they let such a big group go away.
The next day I made it a point of thanking Alexandre Vinokourov for letting me go so the lead would pass over to me - he laughed and said “only for you”. When I rolled to the start in the maglia rosa it was incredible! It was the point where all of my questions about the sacrifice of moving to Italy just disappeared. Then I got really sick…and it was no longer fun!
Realistically I was never going to win the overall at the Giro, but I went from Cloud 9 to being almost unable to start from a really bad case of gastro…really bad! The team doctor didn’t think I was going to be able to start, never mind be able to defend the pink jersey!
I had every one of my teammates come into my room to check up on me, and that in and of itself provided enough inspiration for me to give it a shot…not to mention the fact that it’s a measure of respect to start the day if you’re holding onto the leader’s jersey.
When your team has the jersey it’s like war for the first hour of the day. Our team was who decided who was going away, and it makes things really hectic to say the least. Not only that, but the Saxo Bank team we had there was relatively young, and we all grew up a bit together during that race.
When you’re sitting at home on the couch the Giro d’Italia was an amazing race to watch, but when you’re the one riding the course your perspective can really change while in the thick of things. The strade bianche in stage 7 was a spectacle – to me, it was the rawest form of cycling – everybody was focused for that stage. Cadel Evans showed that day that he was just a hard bastard! The race organizers got a lot of flack for putting a stage like that in the race, but for me even in my first Grand Tour, it was something that I can look back on and be really proud to have been a part of!
Even though I had a comfortable margin the white jersey in the end by several minutes, it ended up being a real battle with Robert Kiserlovski and Bauke Mollema. In Verona I ended up with a top ten in the overall, and being on the podium with the white jersey was surreal. Not only that, but I had Cadel and Matty Lloyd up there with me which was huge for Australian cycling!
That’s enough for now – next entry I’ll talk about the last part of my season.
Thanks for reading!