Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Nicolas Roche's Giro d'Italia diary

Out of reach: Nacer Bouhanni celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia
Out of reach: Nacer Bouhanni celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia

After seven hours in the saddle on Thursday I was pretty tired and tried to go to bed early, but even though I switched the lights off at about 10.30pm I couldn't get to sleep for ages.

Every time I moved in bed, I could feel the after effects of my crash, the 'road rash' you get when you take some skin off by sliding along the road.

Like a carpet burn, it stings when you touch it. I didn't get a great night's sleep and I woke up early and was the first one down for breakfast.

I don't know if it's a general tiredness thing or just absent mindedness, but I've started to do a few stupid things the last few days.

Two days ago, I washed my team tracksuit, hung it in the bathroom of the hotel to dry and only realised I had left it there when I arrived at the next hotel.

Yesterday when we got to the start, I opened my bag on the team bus to discover that I had forgotten my shorts. I usually carry two pairs in my race bag, but after the rain the other day, one of them got badly stained so I left it in my suitcase.

As I had ripped my other pair apart by sliding on the ground, I fired them in the bin after the stage but never thought any more about it until I went to get dressed. Luckily, our bus driver had a spare set and my blushes were spared.

There was a bit of banter on the bus yesterday about a crash between our two Giro first timers, Jay McCarthy and Chris-Juul Jensen.

Jay and Chris have really surprised me with their teamwork and strong riding so far on this Giro and I was really impressed with Jay on Thursday.

When the crash happened, the first thing he did was stop, look for our Polish rider Rafal Majka, who had begun the day in fifth place overall before handing him his bike and pushing him off, which is pretty quick thinking for a young rider and saw Rafal end the stage in fourth place overall.

There was some confusion after the stage as Jay's number was on Rafal's bike and Jay was marked down as having finished just 49 seconds down on the stage winner rather than the 15 minutes he actually lost.

To wind him up, Jay showed Chris his 'result', which still hadn't been corrected on one of the websites, but Chris replied that it was a sorry state of affairs when your bike gets a better result than you can.

Magnificent seven for sprint king Bouhanni

Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni claimed his second win of the 2014 Giro d'Italia with victory on stage seven in Foligno.

Bouhanni, winner of Tuesday's first Italian stage, the controversial finish in Bari, showed his dominance in the bunch sprints by triumphing at the end of the 211-kilometre route from Frosinone. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) was second and Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) third, while the top of the overall rankings were unchanged, with Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) retaining the race leader's pink jersey.

Matthews finished in fourth a day after winning the sixth stage and will wear the maglia rosa for today's 179km eighth stage from Foligno to Montecopiolo.

The undulating day ahead may present an opportunity for Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who sits 21 seconds behind in second.

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