Giro d'Italia Weekend Wrap-Up

Sun 26 May 2013

The first Grand Tour of the season came to a close on Sunday in Brescia. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won the overall victory and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) took his fifth stage win to take home the red points jersey. While a stage win remained elusive for ORICA-GreenEDGE during the three weeks of Italian racing, Assistant Sport Director Julian Dean is pleased with the efforts his team put forth during the final two days of racing and the tour as a whole. In his own words, he reviews the concluding two stages of the Giro d’Italia.

Like many days of the Giro, Saturday’s race was dictated greatly by the weather. Stage 19 was cancelled on Friday. Stage 20 was significantly shortened to take out two big climbs that were not passable due to snow. This made the final climb the key moment of the race. Before the summit finish, the race covered a gradual valley road.

We had a couple of options on Saturday. We had first discussed getting into the breakaway. The only realistic chance we had was with Pieter Weening, and the plan was adopted that the team would work to get Pieter in the early move.

We expected racing to be aggressive from the start, and we anticipated a long battle before the break would establish. It was surprising when only four riders got away from the peloton. A group of four didn’t pose too much of a problem. We predicted that it would come back toward the end of the stage naturally as we raced higher and higher.

There was always the possibility that we’d encounter snow on the summit finish, and 'encounter' proved to be an understatement. The race organisation managed to keep the roads clear, but the weather condition was as bad as it could be once were above 2000 metres.

Pieter rode a fantastic race. He’s had several really strong days so far, and Saturday was no different. He attacked at the bottom of the second to last climb with 25 kilometres left. He rolled the dice in trying to get a gap on some of the big favourites and pure climbers. His risk proved successful. He got away and led the race alone, riding most of the last 25 kilometres with a large gap over the field. Pieter was caught by Nibali in the last few kilometres. The race imploded in the wake of Nibali's attack as the overall contenders jumped to respond.

Although Pieter slipped out of the top ten on the stage, he rode a fantastic stage. He took the initiative to race really aggressively, and that’s exactly what we like to see at ORICA-GreenEDGE. Hats off to him for repeatedly chasing after a result these last three weeks. I’m really proud of him for his effort and attitude.

The last stage of the Giro d’Italia saw a difficult final week of racing come to a close. There were a lot of ups and downs to the third week of racing with weather modifications, long transfers and lot of unknowns. The boys have done well to deal with it all, and today was about finishing off the hard work they’ve put in day after day over the last three weeks

The stage followed the traditional format of the final day of a Grand Tour. There was a parade from the start city to the finish city ahead of circuit laps around the old part of Brescia. The peloton tackled seven laps of a 4.2 kilometre highly technical loop.

Our team in Italy isn’t the sort of team that is well-suited to a circuit like the one we saw in Brescia, but we thought there might be a chance for Brett Lancaster to do another sprint. He had posted some decent results earlier in the week, and we wanted to see if he could get up there in the end. He did what he could, but he was caught by himself in the finale and couldn’t overtake the sprint trains gunning for the final stage win.

When I think back on this Giro, I think one of the most memorable moments will be the big smile on Luke Durbridge's face as he rolled back to the bus after he completed his first Grand Tour. Like I told him today, he’s never going to be the same bike rider again. Your first Grand Tour, they change you for the better. I’m really happy to see him get through it.

Overall, I think the sentiment is that it’s been a good, hard three weeks. We came here looking for stage wins, and we leave empty-handed in that regard. Still, everyone feels like we gave it a crack whenever we could, and we can take a lot of positive things away in that regard.