In His Own Words: Jens Keukeleire on Giro d'Italia Stage 11

Wed 15 May 2013

Jens Keukeleire has been on the attack during most of the medium mountain stages of the Giro d’Italia. Today was no exception. Determined to get up the road, when Keukeleire missed out on the escape, he bridged across alone to feature into the day’s move. In his own words, Keukeleire describes stage 11, where he finished in 13th place.

It took almost two hours for the break to get away today. I think it was a combination of several factors that made it difficult for the break to form. The roads were big and straight. The beginning of the race was slightly downhill. There was a strong headwind. Anyone sitting on wheels had an easy ride. A lot of guys thought they had a chance on today’s stage because we knew the break would stay away. Any one of these things could be enough to make it hard to escape. All of them together made it very difficult.

I tried several times to get up the road, but the moves that I made were not the ones that stuck. Nineteen riders went away, and they already had a nice gap by the time I realised that this might be the one the peloton would let go. I closed the gap on my own. I had to do one big, long sprint to make it across. It took me over a minute to get them within my reach, and then I was hanging about 10-15 metres behind them for awhile. I thought ‘I’m never going to make it’, but I kept trying. Finally, I closed that last little gap. It took some time to recover from the effort, but I felt fine after that.

Once we had a couple minutes over the peloton, I think everyone realised that it was time to start saving as much energy as possible. First, we had to get over the category two climb that came in the middle of the stage. After that, it was obvious that everyone had on their mind that they needed to wait for the right moment to attack. It got a little nervous in the last 30-40 kilometres.

Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano) got away from us on the long descent following the Sella di Campigotto summit. Other riders began to attack after this, and Daniel Oss (BMC) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin Sharp) were the next two to get away. Obviously, I don’t know what happened in front of me, but I know at some point those Oss and Navardauskas caught Gretsch. Navardauskas went on to take the stage win alone.

Today ended with a seven kilometre climb to the finish. It wasn’t too hard, nothing like yesterday, but I think it started a little too hard for me. The remaining riders in our group started attacking from the bottom of the climb, and I needed some time to get into a rhythm. I had to let the group go at first, but once I found my pace, I kept them within 10”-20” the rest of the way. If things hadn’t started quite so quickly, I might have been able to stay with them, which wouldn’t have mattered much in the end with Navardauskas and Oss up the road. Instead, I finished in 13th place, 3’36 behind Navardauskas. The peloton came in two minutes behind me.

There are several other days where the break could stay away until the finish. My legs are good, and I’m climbing well. I’m definitely interested in trying again on another day.