Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Nicolas Roche's Giro D'Italia Diary: Motivating my team-mate to third felt great

First home: Italy's Stefano Pirazzi celebrates
First home: Italy's Stefano Pirazzi celebrates

Of the five stages left on this Giro as we rolled out of the start in Sarnonico, yesterday was the best hope of a breakaway group staying clear to contest the finish.

Today and Saturday bring two seriously hard mountain stages with summit finishes, tomorrow's is a mountain time trial while Sunday's final flat stage into Trieste should end in a bunch sprint.

We started off on a descent, which ensured the speed was high from the start but the problem was that it stayed high for almost 90km and just under two hours, until a 26 man move finally surged clear.

While I was told to ignore the moves and try and recover in time to help my team-mate Rafal Majka for today's mountain epic, the younger guys on the team, Chris-Juul Jensen and Jay McCarthy, tried to get away.

Our young Aussie rider Jay had spent most of the opening hour and a half either trying to jump into the right move or trying to catch his breath.

As he gasped for breath, Jay drifted back down the peloton beside me. He was thinking of giving up but I persuaded him to keep trying.

Half an hour later, he was up the road in the group of 26 riders and so was my Russian team-mate Evgeny Petrov and Philip Deignan from Sky.

The gap slowly went up and they had opened a lead of 15 minutes by the finish. The Movistar team of race leader Nairo Quintana were smart enough to keep riding steadily.

It started raining in the last 30km or so and the roads were really slippery again but thankfully everyone was intelligent enough to ride gingerly.

With the breakaways chasing a stage win though, the pace up front meant there were three crashes in the last 20km or so.

With all of the points towards the green jersey being mopped up by the leading 26 riders, the bunch sprint wasn't contested yesterday, although I didn't see much of it as I was too far back.

At the team bus I found out that Jay had finished third on the stage, which is a great result for him and a nice reward for all of the hard work he has done. Stefano Pirazzi came home first.

The first thing Jay said to me was 'Thanks for the bit of motivation earlier'.

Rafal is now fifth overall. He is two seconds off fourth placed Pierre Rolland, seven seconds off third placed Cadel Evans and is closing in on his first podium finish on a Grand Tour.

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