NetApp's Jan Barta on a high after Coppi e Bartali victory
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Monday, March 26, 2012

NetApp's Jan Barta on a high after Coppi e Bartali victory

by Shane Stokes at 6:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Tour of Britain podium finisher continues to gain momentum

Jan BartaConfidence ramped up as a result of its two stage wins and overall victory in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, the NetApp team is continuing to build towards its first Grand Tour participation in the Giro d’Italia.

Ditto for Czech rider Jan Barta, who won the concluding time trial and ended up as the outright victor of the 2.1-ranked event.

The 27 year old rider is next due to compete in the Grand Prix Pino Cerami on April 5th, then is scheduled to ride the Rund um Köln (April 9th) after that. He’ll hope for another good performance in those races, but being on the team for the Giro and performing well there is his biggest target.

What’s clear is that winning the Coppi e Bartali race is a huge boost to his confidence, particularly as it shows progress since netting third in last year’s Tour of Britain. He admitted that his expectations weren’t too high to begin with. “Before the race started, I thought that it would be really tough in the mountains. Even if I have had good legs I wasn’t sure if it would be enough for the mountains,” he said.

“On the difficult mountain stage I had been in the first group and at that point I became sure that I would be able to achieve something in the GC. Even more so because I’m a good time trialist. On the last mountain stage I tried to lose as little time as possible, and I succeeded.”

Barta started the final time trial fourth overall, thirteen seconds behind his team-mate and then-race leader Bartosz Huzarski. He aced the race against the clock, covering the 14.3 kilometre distance in 16 minutes 46 seconds and beating the next rider, Adriano Malori (Lampre ISD) by five seconds.

Huzarski did all he could to hold onto the jersey but was 26 seconds back in eleventh place. The final outcome was that Barta ended the five day race 13 seconds better than his fellow NetApp rider, who was second.

The result ended a long drought for him. “It is my first win in three years,” he said. “At that time I won stage four of the Tour of Austria. But this win is even bigger and absolutely amazing. I’m so happy…I received tons of SMS, mails and calls – from friends but also people I hardly know! Getting this amount of attention is simply great.”

Looking at the results throughout the race, it’s clear that things simply went completely to plan for the team. “Cesare [Benedetti, 2nd] was on the podium right on the first day,” he said, “and that was the kick-off. Then we won the team trial, which binded the team together. From then it went like clockwork. We collaborated perfectly.”

The time trial victory initially handed the race leader’s jersey to Benedetti. He defended the jersey the following day, then Huzarski took over on stage four when he finished third from a breakaway.

That game of pass the parcel ended when Barta won the time trial and inherited the lead for himself. He’s pleased to have won, of course, but also takes satisfaction from the fact that the jersey was shared around the team.

“It was a great feeling,” he said. “Every success we hailed during that tour was based on our teamwork.”

Next up for him are the aforementioned races, the Grand Prix Pino Cerami and the Rund um Köln. After that, he’ll ride De Brabantse Pijl (April 11th), the Giro del Trentino (April 17-20) and, all going to plan, will make his Grand Tour debut in the Giro d’Italia on May 5th.


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