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"Every time they do something like what Davide did today, they gain in confidence because they’ve proven to themselves that they can do it."

Photo: Sirotti




12.05.2015 @ 02:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Giro d’Italia newcomer Davide Villella spent the third day of Italian Grand Tour race as part of a large breakaway that continually fractured and regrouped throughout the short, sharp stage. The escape group slipped up the road from the as soon as the officially start was given, and Villella reacted quickly to make the move. Tom Jelte Slagter attempted to bridge during the first hour of the 133km stage before ultimately sitting up to wait for the peloton.


“When you have a stage like the one we saw today come early in a Grand Tour, with constant corners and twisting and turning roads, the breakaway has a reasonable chance of making it to the finish,” explained Sport Director Charly Wegelius. “There is not such a big difference between the peloton and the breakaway in terms of the energy spent. It tilts the advantage a little bit more in the favor of the breakaway when normally the sheer strength in numbers of the peloton would make it much easier to control the breakaway.”


“Knowing the breakaway might stay away today, we were looking to place riders up the road so that they could play for the stage,” Wegelius added. “You saw such a big group go away because so many other teams had the same idea, which can cancel things out a little bit.”

Initially the 25-strong breakaway group collaborated well. Tinkoff-Saxo positioned riders on the front of the peloton to keep the gap to the leaders under the two minute mark.


“With the way the race developed, the chance of the break making to the line became quite limited,” noted Wegelius. “Tinkoff rode harder than I expected and they started riding a lot earlier. They kept the break at a minute-and-a-half, two minutes the whole stage.”


Several times the breakaway split. Each time Villella was on the right end of that split – amongst the leaders or the small group of chasers that would eventually make its way back to the front. Forty kilometers from the finish, Villella was one of ten riders around 20 seconds behind a lone leader.


“The experience Davide Villella had today at the front of the Giro wasn’t by accident,” said Wegelius. “It was a hard stage, and when he made the selection at the end, it was purely on strength. I think these are small things that riders at his stage of development need to see to get confirmation for themselves, with their own eyes, that their potential is a reality. Potential is one thing, but putting it into effect on the road is another.”


“That’s what we’re doing here,” Wegelius added. “We’re giving the riders opportunities to show themselves day in and day out that they can do these kinds of things at this level. Every time they do something like what Davide did today, they gain in confidence because they’ve proven to themselves that they can do it. If we can accumulate as many positive experiences as possible for the young riders and prove to them through real race experiences that they have the level to be competitive, they are going to come out of this race with a lot more confidence than they started with.”


The peloton lifted the pace in the last 20km of the race, catching the final few escapees just beyond the 10km mark. Team Cannondale-Garmin remained attentive on the front. In his Grand Tour debut, Davide Formolo put in a dig with two kilometers left to race.


“The attack from Formolo was on one of those small little rises on the run-in,” added Wegelius. “We knew that would be our best chance to sneak away from the group before the finish. Because of the steady tempo that was set the whole day, the group was slightly larger than we would have liked. The speed was so high, so there was little chance for success there, but Davide was very brave to take his chance. It was a good effort and a really positive day for the team.”


Formolo posted the team’s best result in Sestri Levanti, sprinting in for 16th place from the reduced bunch. Villella, André Cardoso, Ryder Hesjedal and Slagter were all among the 74 rider peloton that contested the finish.


“The objective with Ryder was to preserve his position, to not lose any time, but also to look for any opportunities to gain time – perhaps on the descent from the final climb,” said Wegelius. “The team was extremely good. We had seven riders in the group at the base of the last climb, and it wasn’t a big group. I think that speaks to the condition of the riders and the strength they’ve got at the moment.”


The fourth stage of the Giro d’Italia shares many characteristics to Monday’s stage three. The route between Chiavari and La Spezia is undulating with narrow, winding roads. Running only 150km, it’s likely racing will be active from start to finish.


“It’s another day that presents the opportunities we saw today,” said Wegelius. “Each day that goes by, the more tired the riders in the peloton will start to get and the more reluctant teams will become to keep breakaways very close. Sooner or later, the elastic is going to snap, and a break will stay away. We need to make sure we’re in the front when that move goes.”


Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) crashed heavily on a descent of the third stage of the Giro d’Italia. He was evacuated by ambulance to a local hospital.


“It’s tough for everyone in the sport to hear about accidents like this one,” said Wegelius. “I think this sort of thing really brings the importance of everything back into perspective. Everyone on the team wishes him the best. We hope he has a speedy recovery.”



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