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Il Giro d’Italia 2014 – Stage 9; Lugo – Sestola, 174 km. Pieter Weening Winning

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Giro d'Italia logoBoring this Giro is not – Pieter Weening won ORICA-GreenEDGE’s third stage of the race in a two-up sprint against Davide Malacarne (Team Europcar) both having survived from the break of the day.

It took an hour of savage racing before a big break of 14 was finally allowed to go – once the correct recipe passed the test of the ‘Bigs’ dipping their finger in the mixing bowl.

But there were just two left come the mountain top tactical finish where Weening was too strong for Malacarne – I did enjoy the high altitude track stand…

Sean Kelly had expected Malacarne to win – but on days like this one when there’s little fuel left in the tank it’s often raw strength and grinta which tip the scales.

Weening wanted it more and continued GreenEDGE’s wonderful run of form.

Weening
Pieter Weening.

Whether it’s the Ardennes, Switzerland, Ireland, Turkey, Italy or even California – they’re winning.

Weening’s Aussie tinted ‘Eurospeak’ is a joy to listen to – ‘for sure, eh?

But it was hitherto quiet Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) who posed the biggest threat to upsetting the GC status quo and attacked late to finish 26 seconds ahead of the Evans group and earn a four-second time bonus for finishing third; as a result he’s climbed from 10th to fourth overall, 1:20 off the lead.

Pieter Weening
Domenico Pozzovivo is making sure we’re talking about him most days. Photo©Fabio Ferrari

What confused me was why Evans sent his troops to work hard a couple of times; maybe it was just to keep him out of trouble and at the front – or was there more ‘polemica’ at play?

Whilst his henchmen Morabito and Oss are total bears, they have their limits and we still have 12 stages to go, including six major mountain stages – don’t burn them out too soon, Cadel.

Oss is a cool guy; he was with Liquigas for a number of seasons and had individual success in races like the Giro del Veneto and Tour of Colorado – but perhaps the ‘super domestique cum bear’ role is best for him.

Martin and I interviewed Oss at le Tour three years ago, he’s a really nice guy but lacks that Godzilla-like glint which Cadel has in his eye – he likes what he does but doesn’t necessarily want to eat people whole to win.

Pieter Weening
Cadel sitting pretty amongst his teammates. Photo©Fabio Ferrari

Garmin’s ‘bursts on the banjo’ (copyright Dave Duffield) were hard to understand – what was the point?

Pozzovivo’s strong ride made amends for his team’s work yesterday – which he failed to capitalise upon.

Those AG2R boys are very good this year and if the little Italian can get the jersey then he couldn’t have a better equipe to back him up.

Dave and I spoke to him back in his Navigare days and he really is a tiny guy – the size of your average 12 year-old school boy in Scotland.

Uran showed a little today but I can’t help but think that QuickStep management will be drumming into him the stage racers mantra that, ‘Grand Tours are won in the third week.’

Pieter Weening
Uran has been slowly building during the first week. Photo©Tim de Waele/OPQS

It was good to see Poels up there in support of Uran, another quality rider.

Quintana says he’s suffering from his Cassino crash injuries but could be bluffing – although it has to be said that the man does look stressed.

The Movistar physio and chiro will be hard at work on the little man from Combita tomorrow; and Tuesday’s 184 kilometres are about as flat as you can expect in this Giro – so a little breathing space for the ‘Telephone Man.’

An ‘up and comer’ who’s really impressing me is Lampre’s Ulissi; granted we’re not on the mega climbs – Gavia, Stelvio, Zoncolan and the rest but he was right there again today in fourth spot.

There comes a day for some good single day riders and stage win chasers when they realise that they can be good at this stage race lark – maybe this is the race where Ulissi makes that realisation?

Lampre management must now know that Cunego’s best years are well behind him – and there’ll be no repeat of big Pole Niemiec’s 2013 top 10 finish.

Pieter Weening
Damiano Cunego.

The former ‘Little Prince’ sits in 22nd spot @ 6:35 whilst Niemiec languishes in 37th position at a disastrous 14:39.

The balancing act with Ulissi is between encouragement and pressure; the next week will be interesting – in particular Thursday’s time trial.

And a final word on Lampre; if you think that this Giro is lacking ‘something,’ it’s ‘Pippo’ the man with the tats, curls and man bag didn’t make the team for the race which needs him.

Instead, he’s riding in Japan – sad.

Pieter Weening
Race leader one day, on the floor with the shorts ripped open the next. The chaning fortunes of Michael Mattheews. Photo©Fabio Ferrari

Apart from Pozzato’s absence then, no complaints from VeloVeritas about this Giro; and we’re looking forward to our rest day too – sometimes it’s hell jabbing away at this Toshiba, day in, day out, listening to Vik on the phone, trying to get awkward crumbs out from between the ‘Ctrl’ and ‘Alt’ keys, remembering how to spell all those damned foreign names and …

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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