Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Nicholas Roche's Giro D'Italia Diary: Unfamiliar, wet course reduced my risk taking

In control: Rigoberto Uran is the new Giro d’Italia leader
In control: Rigoberto Uran is the new Giro d’Italia leader

Having crashed on a descent and fallen into a muddy ditch, my Danish team-mate Chris Anker Sorensen finished Wednesday's stage looking like he'd been dragged through a hedge.

Even though he'd walloped his head and thought he'd broken his hand in the crash, Chris continued on to the finish.

Neurological tests and X-rays showed no signs of anything afterwards, but our Tinkoff-Saxo team doctor monitored him during the night, waking him a few times to make sure he was okay.

Although he responded normally, the team thought it was best to stop him from racing yesterday, so he was forced out of this Giro. He'll stay with us for a few days so the doctor can keep an eye on him before he goes home.

As I'm currently 28 minutes behind race leader Cadel Evans, am not a time trial specialist and was never going to win the stage, there was no pressure on me to ride flat out yesterday.

It was lashing rain at the start, so, like a lot of riders, I ducked into a VIP tent for cover a few minutes before rolling down the ramp.

With the rain pelting down and the roads getting slippery, I didn't go full gas, but instead rode parts of the course hard and parts really easy.

The hardest thing for me yesterday was that, for the first time in a long time, I hadn't ridden the course beforehand which encouraged me to slow down every time I went into a blind corner.

I didn't want to take any risks in the wet, especially as I'd seen the guy who started in front of me, Tobias Ludvigsson of the Giant-Shimano team, fly across a knee-high crash rail on a bend and land about 20 metres off the road in a field below.

In the end, I lost another eight minutes on yesterday's stage, but stayed in the same 44th place overall.

After I crossed the line, I got handed my backpack from the soigneur, went to the hotel, got showered and changed and got the team car back to my room where I tried to chill out before dinner.

My team-mate Rafal Majka finished fourth, a minute and 39 seconds behind stage winner and new race leader Rigoberto Uran of Omega Pharma Quickstep.

We were expecting him to do well, but he really consolidated his third place overall and has set himself up very well for a podium placing on this Giro now.

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