Stage 16 – San Vendemiano – Falzes (217km)
By Fred Rodriguez, Acqua & Sapone Professional Cycling Team
I am going to try to make it to Milan.
After talking with the team and knowing the importance of this race to us and to our sponsors, I am going to do my best to make it through the mountains these next few days and ride to Milan. Pulling out would not be too good for the team, so I need to do my best… I just need to save my legs as much as possible.
That last stage into Milan is very important to the team and, at the same time, making it to Philadelphia for the USPRO is very important to me, so I need to balance that. As part of the discussion that we had on the subject this morning, I did manage to get them to agree to get me a first-class ticket to Philly when I leave here.
It was a tough stage today, but my goal was to ride as easy as I could get away with. Given the distance and the number of tough climbs, this was certainly one of the toughest stages of the Giro.
Riding through the Dolomites these next few days is tough on sprinters. It’s much tougher than, say, riding a flat stage is on the climbers. So, we all keep an eye out for each other and get that groupetto together when the going gets tough.
When things got steep today, I looked around and saw a group of guys getting dropped and stayed with them. The more we rode, the bigger the group got as we kept getting guys who were slipping off the back on the later climbs. By the half-way point, we were 20 to 25 strong and the pace began to really pick up because a lot of the guys were getting worried about the time cut. As it turned out we finished well inside of it, but some of those guys were really nervous about it. I think we had eight or nine minutes to spare when we finished, though.
Up front, Rinaldo Nocentini from our team turned in a really great ride today, finishing second to Cunego. He had a really good time trial a couple of days ago, too, and he’s beginning to feel very confident. He’s a very interesting character. I really like him a lot. He’s a very animated and funny guy. It’s just relaxing to be around the guy. I have noticed that morale – a good team spirit – makes a huge difference for the guy. He thrives on the positive feelings of the rest of the team. He is doing well here in part because of the team that we have at the Giro is a pretty relaxed and easy going bunch. Really there are no hot-heads… well, I’m probably the hottest head in the group. As a group, the guys are pretty easy going and like to have fun and you can tell that gives Rinaldo a nice boost.
After today, we can all use a little break. I am glad it’s time for a rest day. I think I will spend some time out on my bike by myself, just checking out the area around here. It’s beautiful in this part of Italy. When we got to the finish today I almost thought we were in Switzerland. I want to take some of that in tomorrow, if I can. I think, though, I need some time on my own, just to get a little bit of solitude.
So over the next few days, I’ll play it one day at a time and try to save my legs for Milan and for Philadelphia and hopefully avoid the time cuts as well.
We’ll see how it goes..
To keep tabs on Fred Rodriguez’s career, visit FredRodriguez.com.