Giro d'Italia: Weening promises to battle to retain lead
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Giro d'Italia: Weening promises to battle to retain lead

by Shane Stokes at 10:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Dutchman ready for Etna showdown

Pieter WeeningHe’s not known as a high-mountain climber, and as a result Pieter Weening was in an uncertain mood as to how things would pan out on today’s stage to Mount Etna. Speaking minutes before the start of today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia, the Dutchman said that he would battle hard, then see how things work out.

“I will try to hang on as long as possible,” he promised. “We will see today how my legs are feeling. We will have to wait until after the race to see what went wrong, or good…we will see.”

Weening’s closest challengers are the HTC Highroad duo of Kanstantsin Sivtsov and Marco Pinotti. They are lurking just two seconds back, with Garmin-Cervélo’s Christophe Le Mevel a further three seconds behind. The rider he is most likely to be worried about, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank SunGard) is 13 seconds back after making up time with his unexpected attack in the finale of yesterday’s stage.

Weening has enjoyed his time in pink, but has also appears stressed at times with the demands from the fans for autographs and photos. That’s understandable, given the intensity of the public in Italy, but other riders do appear to relish the attention a little more.

In some ways, one gets the impression that if the pink jersey passes to someone else, part of him will welcome back a more tranquil time on the race.

Whether or not he holds the lead today, his stage win and time at the top of the general classification mark a step forward for his career. He played down suggestions that he would gain extra motivation from the experience, though.

“I am always motivated. Of course it is a great thing to be in a lead in a big Tour. I’m always motivated to win big races…this doesn’t make a difference,” he claimed.

One thing which may help his chances on the final climb is the fact that the wind is blowing strongly on the exposed slopes, and the gradient is not too steep. That may prevent things from breaking up as much as they otherwise might on different climbs.

 

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