In His Own Words: Sport Director Neil Stephens on the Giro d'Italia Stage Seven

Fri 10 May 2013

It was another wet and wild finale at the Giro d’Italia. Pieter Weening posted his second top ten stage finish, crossing the line in ninth place in Pescara. Light showers turned to heavy rain in the final 20 minutes of racing, and the slippery roads wreaked havoc on the peloton.

Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) was the sole survivor of the early breakaway. The Australian soloed to victory, 1’07 ahead of the group that included Weening. The main chase group formed on the wet descent that saw several riders crash en route to the finish, losing valuable time in the process. Most notably, pre-race favourite Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) fell victim to the rain-soaked roads and dropped out of the top 20 overall.

Sport Director Neil Stephens declared it ‘another good day’ for ORICA-GreenEDGE. In his own words, he describes the action from the team’s perspective.

Today was a really, really hard day from the start. There were several crashes early. The road was up and down all day – and the ups and downs began from kilometre zero. It was race on from the beginning.

The goal today was to get Jens Keukeleire in the break early in the day and have Christian Meier attend to Pieter Weening for as long he could. Pieter would save his energy for attacks later in the race. Jens managed to get himself into a couple moves, but none of them stuck. As luck would have it, right when he came back from his third or fourth attempt, the move that became the early break got away. Having missed the break, Jens did a quick switch of roles and joined Christian in supporting Pieter.

Today wasn’t a day for our sprinters, and we gave them a day ‘off’, if you can call a 163 kilometre day over medium mountains a bit of rest. The time trial tomorrow is a goal for Luke Durbridge and Svein Tuft, so we also wanted them to take it as easy as possible.

Christian and Jens did their work well, and Pieter was great in the finish. He not only made the elite selection again, but he got away in a move over the climbs before making a late attack to go for second place.

I think we can see by the number of crashes coming into the finish that the descent today was slippery, tricky and dangerous. Riders crashed all over the place, and Pieter realised it just wasn’t worth it. After his first attack, he backed off somewhat, fighting all the way to finish without taking too many risks. He was rewarded with ninth place for his efforts.

We want to extend a congratulations to fellow Aussie Adam Hansen. It was a good win by a hard worker who usually plays the support role. Hats off to him and his team.

We’re hoping for a decent result with Luke and Svein tomorrow. The course is maybe a bit more suited to Luke, although it’s not fully suited to either of them. It’s a really hard time trial – solid with a little climbing. I expect them both to give it their best although neither are exactly physically suited to the terrain.