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GENOVA, Italy (VN) – Winner of a Tour de France stage in 2018 and of six stages at the Vuelta a España, including a hat-trick of successes last year, Magnus Cort came into the Giro d’Italia hoping to rediscover his form after a collar-bone break at Tirreno-Adriatico in early March and, if it came, complete a set of wins at the three grand tours.
Fourth behind Mathieu van der Poel and Biniam Girmay on the uphill sprint at Visegrád on the opening stage, his first day of racing since that Tirreno setback, the EF Education-EasyPost rider started quickly but has since struggled to regain the condition that saw him win the first stage at the Gran Camiño in Spain in late February.
Going into the very undulating run from Parma to Genova that cut through the top end of the Apennine mountain chain, he was optimistic that he might feature again.
“Today is definitely a very interesting stage for me to be in the breakaway,” the 29-year-old Dane told VeloNews at the start. “I think it’s getting better and better, but I think I’m still a little bit off the Vuelta form of last year, although that form was incredible. I feel like I’m improving slowly.”
Cort acknowledged that completing a set of wins at the grand tours was very much on his mind when he lined up for what is his first appearance at the Giro.
“That’s been a dream for many years and if things don’t work out today I can see there are other opportunities ahead. The stage at the weekend in Turin is perhaps a good one, for instance. We’ll just have to see how hard they get raced. But if I have good legs and find myself in the right breakaway then it’s still possible,” he said. “The team will support me in a lot of stages and breakaways, while there’ll also still be a lot of support for Hugh Carthy for the GC.”
Getting in today’s break was hard work for @MagnusCort 🙌
⏰ Time: 1h27‘23“
💨 Avg speed: 51.5km/h
🌪 Max speed: 75.3km/h
⚡️ Avg power: 310w
💪 Max power: 1170w
💓 Average HR: 151bpm
Follow the race live 👇
— Velon CC (@VelonCC) May 19, 2022
The EF rider revealed that the very unseasonal heat that has accompanied the Giro since the start has made the challenge of being competitive more taxing, especially after two consecutive nights spent in hotels where the air-conditioning had broken down.
Nevertheless, Cort’s suggestion that the stage to Genova could be an “interesting” one for him was confirmed when he made it into the break, in which he spent 147km on the attack.
“It was a strong breakaway and took a long time for it to form,” he explained at the finish, adding that his hope that his form would pick up a little more and enable him to contend for victory hadn’t played out.
“I didn’t really think of making any attacks. I couldn’t make any plans like that. I had enough to do just trying to survive in the break. I feel tired now. I would have liked better legs, but I’ve been struggling to find them in this race,” he admitted.
He will keep trying, though, knowing that form can arrive unexpectedly, but also aware that racing the Giro should set him up very well for the Tour de France, which starts in his home country on 1 July.
“I’d love to have that form I had at the Vuelta last year when the Tour gets under way. That would be the dream,” said the Dane.