A man who’s been working hard in defence of Garmin’s pink jerseys – first on the shoulders of Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas and then Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal – is Danish fast man, Alex Rasmussen. Alex took time to chat to his Six Day runner (me!) before the roll out at Assisi on Wednesday, en route Montecatini Terme.
If he’d had been one of the counting riders in the team time trial, it would have been him pulling on the pink jersey, not his Lithuanian team mate.
But blocked legs meant that he slid off the back of the Garmin Express.
We started by asking about that stage 4 TTT – which came immediately after the rest day, in Verona.
“I was good in Denmark, third in the prologue and good legs in the two road stages.
“And whilst stage three was tricky and there was that crash, I didn’t need a rest! In Verona, my legs were just blocked, I don’t like rest days – you lose the rhythm of the race and there’s all that sitting about . . .
“Since stage five I’ve felt good – we’ve been working hard in defence of the jersey, first with Ramunas, then Ryder. The stage in to Assisi (stage 10) yesterday was easy for us, though – Katusha took it up for the whole stage.
“It was ‘compatto’ until the foot of the last two climbs, I sat up with six or seven K to go. The mountains worry me a little bit, but you just have to fight, like Cav did the other day. I was actually in that group with him but was worried we’d miss the cut so rode away from the gruppetto with an Italian rider.
“Now that Ryder has lost the jersey to Rodriguez, it’s unlikely we’ll get it back – but that makes life easier for us because we don’t have to work to defend the jersey. There are still sprint stages to come but they’ll be very hard to control – there are still teams in the race with nothing to show and they’ll be desperate to get in to breaks.
“My goal is survival, now – my target is the last time trial. I was unlucky with that puncture in the last kilometre in 2011 – I’m hoping for better, this year.
“Alan Peiper is with us at Garmin this year, I worked with him at HTC and it’s good to be back with him – he understands me as a rider.”
Today? It’s the longest stage of the race at 255 K.
“It’ll either be a little break which is controlled and it’ll end in a sprint – or a big break which will go all the way. It’s hard to say.”
It was the former; Manuele Boaro was last of the escapees to succumb, in the streets of Montecatini.
The finale was a technical one, again.
We’d hoped to drive the finish circuit but it was closed to all non race traffic.
We settled for a ‘hing spot’ on the barriers at 500 to go.
The speed of the peloton through the streets was mad.
Sky were up there, but not in numbers – Kennaugh and Thomas, with Cav near the front.
But it was Ferrari who triumphed – Modolo went into the last corner too fast, dropped it and baulked those behind.
Ferrari was well placed and didn’t need to be asked twice. Local boy Chicchi almost nailed him but had lost momentum when Modolo came down.
Cav was baulked too, he could have been second, but sat up – ‘places of honour’ are no use to Cav.
Cipollini, in his column in the Gazzetta reckons that Cav blew it by coming in to the last corner on too high a gear, it was too heavy to wind back up before the line.
The Gazzetta actually backs Vik’s view that Sky haven’t quite got the train right; ‘Il treno Sky non ha funzionato‘ they say.
With HTC, lead outs were an art form, dropping Cav off exactly where he needed to be, irrespective of how technical the finale percorso.
At Sky, if it’s flat, fast and straight, then most times they get it sorted.
But in tricky last K’s like in Montecatini, Cav is left to his own devices – and opportunists like Ferrari come in to their own.
Medium mountains, tomorrow – first sort out?