Pieter Weening Makes Elite Selection in Marina di AsceaMon 6 May 2013
Pieter Weening was part of an elite group of riders that formed over the Sella di Catona ascent and managed to keep it upright on the windy, winding descent to Marina di Ascea. Luca Paolini (Katusha) slipped away from the group on the final descent and ultimately took a solo stage victory and the pink jersey 16” ahead of his 16 chasers. Weening slotted into seventh place on the stage.
“This was one of the days that Pieter had on his calendar,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “It’s one thing to make that group, and it’s another for circumstances to align for a stage win. Pieter is an opportunist. For an opportunist to win, he needs to look for an opportunity. He’s got to do what he did today – ride hard enough to make the group and seize any opportunity that he sees. The more times he puts himself in a position to win, the more chances he has.”
The peloton headed out of Sorrento under gloomy, grey skies. Despite the threat of rain, the riders and roads stayed dry throughout the stage. An early break of seven riders slipped away from the bunch on the start circuits before the field pedalled along the Amalfi coast.
“It was a very tricky start today,” noted Stephens. “The break went early so that calmed things down a bit. Today was a scenic stage, but there were so many ups, downs, lefts and rights that it made life difficult for the riders.”
The escape group opened up a six minute lead in the first hour of racing before Team Sky set a tempo that would keep the advantage in check.
The first of the two major difficulties came after 145 kilometres. The break lost one rider over San Mauro Cilento. The peloton splintered on the climb, with most sprinters losing contact before rejoining the bunch on the descent.
“Our plan was to see if we could get to the finish with our sprinters, but we knew this would be difficult today,” explained Stephens. “They gave it a try, but it wasn’t to be. After Gossy [Matt Goss] and Leigh [Howard], we looked to Pieter.”
“We knew we had to be well-placed heading into the first climb,” Stephens continued. “The workers of the team placed our key guys well. When the real action started on the second climb, that’s when things got too difficult. As you saw by the reduced numbers at the finish, it was a difficult day. Only the most elite riders made it to the finish together.”
Giro d’Italia defending champion Ryder Hesjedal attacked on the Sella di Catona, 27 kilometres from the finish. His acceleration and the ensuing chase shattered the peloton. Hesjedal easily overtook the lone survivor from the early breakaway before the peloton caught them both.
As the overall contenders marked each other on the descent, Paolini jumped away. He opened up a small advantage that his chasers were never able to close.
“That was a hard descent,” said Weening. “They raced full on toward the finish. The roads were really sketchy, and there were a few crashes. The roads here in Southern Italy can be slippery, so we have to be more careful in the corners than usual. I was lucky for the second day in a row to avoid crashing.”
With Weening attending to action at the pointy end of the race, his teammates took it as easily as possible in their respective groups.
“It’s easy riding when you’re not on the front,” said Stephens. “It doesn’t matter if you’re five minutes down or 15 minutes down. It’s job done when you lose contact as long as you finish in the time limit.”
Following the stage, ORICA-GreenEDGE made a podium appearance where they accepted the prize for team classification that they earned on the first day of racing.