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BALANTONFÜRED, Hungary (VN) — Mathieu van der Poel vows to go down swinging to defend the pink jersey as he carries the famed tunic back to Italy.
The Alpecin-Fenix star knows his chances of defending the maglia rosa are slim in Tuesday’s grueling summit finale at Mount Etna.
“I will see what is possible and how I feel,” he said. “I don’t know, it depends on how they race but for sure I’m going to try and pick out some stages for the next two weeks.”
Van der Poel enjoyed his first real road stage in the pink jersey after defending it in Saturday’s time trial.
“Yeah for sure it was a really nice day to wear the pink jersey,” he said. “I enjoyed it.”
Van der Poel lived up to his promise to leadout Alpecin-Fenix teammate Jakob Marezcko in Sunday’s first big bunch sprint, and said he did not fall into the temptation of trying to sprint for himself.
“I did not really try to do the sprint myself, I think we did a really good leadout as a team,” he said. “I think Mareczko lost the wheel at the roundabout and then it made no sense for me to do a leadout. I think he got boxed in but he did a very good job.”
Mareczko still managed to kick to fifth on the line behind Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl).
The Giro peloton sees its first rest day Monday, and resumes with the mountaintop finale to Mount Etna. With Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) and a host of climbers hot on his wheel, Van der Poel expects to be back in normal team kit by stage’s end.
“Normally it’s impossible for to me to keep the jersey on Mount Etna but I’ll see how it feels,” Van der Poel said. “I’m happy to bring the maglia rosa to Italy. It’s been an amazing past few days here in Hungary.”