Nicholas Roche's Giro D'Italia diary: Team-mate's victory makes it day to remember
Published 22/05/2014 | 02:30
On paper, yesterday's stage looked perfect for a decent-sized breakaway to go clear and stay away to the finish. My plan was to be in that breakaway with 10 or 15 guys, but hopefully nobody too dangerous to the overall contenders.
That way we could be allowed to open a gap of nine or 10 minutes and I'd be able to fight it out with the strongest of them for the stage win at the end. But half the peloton were thinking the same thing and there was a huge battle to go clear.
Guys were jumping up the road left, right and centre and although we were mostly riding uphill, we covered 52km in the first hour of racing. With groups coming and going off the front, there was nothing guaranteed that the one you got into would be the one that would stick.
Sky were super active trying to get men up the road and my Irish team room-mate Philip Deignan was in a lot of the early moves. I got clear in a group of six with Philip and my team-mate Ivan Rovny on the first climb of the day.
One of the Cannondale riders in a later break, Moreno Moser, came up to me and told me they were going to start riding in the bunch behind because one of the guys in our group, Francis Mouray of FDJ, was seven minutes down on GC and they didn't want to let him get any further.
We then had a bit of an argument in the group, trying to make Mouray sit up and guys were putting pressure on him to drop back to the peloton so they would stop chasing us.
"Look, I'm in the break today but I'm going to lose another five minutes in the time trial tomorrow," he argued.
"I'm not dangerous to anybody!"
It created chaos for a while and everyone eased up because they didn't want to ride hard only to be chased down near the finish.
I've been in Mouray's situation before and while we knew we'd be better off without his presence, I could see his point of view.
Later on, when I saw that my team-mate Rafal Majka, who is third overall, only had Michael Rogers for support, I tried to hang in but I was spent.
As I crossed the line four minutes later, the big screen at the finish showed Michael freewheeling to the stage win with his hands in the air.
Stopping to watch the replay, my grimace turned into a smile.