Belfast Telegraph

Nicholas Roche's Giro D'Italia Diary: I felt like a riding amateur after my silly error

By Nicholas Roche

Although I was up at the usual time yesterday morning, I didn't have much of a breakfast as we only had a flat 173km stage ahead of us.

Our team bus got to the stage start early as we were supposed to record our pre-race team meeting with a film crew, but they weren't allowed past security in time.

Afterwards, we realised that none of us had any race numbers left. Unlike the Tour de France, you don't get a new set of race numbers every day at the Giro. Instead, you have to go and ask for them at the sign-on podium if you're missing any.

As my Russian team-mate Ivan Rovny was the only one dressed in his cycling gear, he got the job of collecting them for the whole team.

Literally about 100 metres after the start, two guys attacked.

Although it was almost a foregone conclusion that the two leaders would be caught before the end it was a really nervous day with teams fighting for position for a place in the front row just in case something happened.

With 20km to go, one of the BMC guys went over the handlebars and brought down my team-mate Ivan.

They were the only two that fell but I was surprised he didn't take down the whole bunch.

With about 8km to go, the BMC team of race leader Cadel Evans hit the front pretty hard before Team Sky took over for their sprinter Ben Swift.

I was with my Polish team-mate Rafal Majka in about 25th position and I moved up the outside in order to keep him out of trouble.

As Sky drilled it up the hill, I thought there might be a chance to give it a shot, which I did with 6km to go.

What I didn't expect was to have to slam on the brakes as we hit the first hairpin bend. I thought the climb was 500m or so longer and that if I attacked, I'd get a few seconds.

I felt like an amateur as I was forced to brake into the corner.

It got messy with 1.5km to go because a lot of the sprinters got back to the front. With no lead-out men to take control, they were all pushing and shoving each other and I got nudged wide and lost a good few places.

In the end I was lucky, because there was a big crash with 700 metres to go and because I was that bit further back, I was able to avoid it and crossed the line in 23rd place as Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ took his third stage win.

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