SESTRI LEVANTE, Italy (VN) – Some say there are no miracles in cycling, but NetApp nearly pulled one off on the road to Assisi on Tuesday.
The upstart squad almost nailed a huge victory in its grand tour debut in Tuesday’s 10th stage when Bartosz Huzarski dashed to second place, just two seconds behind stage-winner Joaquim Rodríguez.
Everyone expected Rodríguez to win, but nearly everyone was surprised to see Huzarski stab his bike across the line for a tidy second place to give the German-registered NetApp team some well-deserved publicity.
“It was a very good day for us. I didn’t expect that I could have such a good final. I felt good and I am very happy with the result,” Huzarski told VeloNews. “Rodríguez is so strong in the finale like this, so to be second to him, it’s almost like a victory.”
The 31-year-old Polish rider is one of the key members of the NetApp team; the professional continental squad in its third season earned its first grand tour invitation for this year’s Giro.
Huzarski, who rode in the Giro once before with ISD-Neri in 2009, is hoping that the result helps motivates his teammates going into the decisive second half of the Giro.
With five major mountain stages left to go in the closing nine days, NetApp will be trying to ride into the breakaways, hunt for that elusive stage win and get as many riders as possible to Milano.
“Like all the small teams that start in the Giro, it’s very important for us. We are very happy to be here. So far, the race has been going well for us. We are looking forward to the coming stages,” he said. “It’s going to be very hard to win a stage. We are slowly going to the front, trying to get into the breakaways. Maybe with a little luck, it is possible. We are very motivated. We are still going to try.”
Huzarski has been one of NetApp’s strongest riders this season, riding to second overall at Coppi e Bartali and already posting two top-10s in the Giro.