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REGGIO EMILIA, Italy (VN) — Team DSM might make headlines for their loss of marquee riders at regular intervals, but there’s no denying the team’s ability to scout out new talents to fill those gaps on their roster.
That was underlined Wednesday when Alberto Dainese became the first Italian stage-winner so far in the 2022 Giro d’Italia with a final explosion of speed that carried him past UAE-Team Emirates’s Fernando Gaviria.
Speaking to VeloNews just a few moments after Dainese’s first WorldTour victory, the tension of a high-octane day was still very evident in DSM team director Matt Winston’s features.
“We had a super hectic day. It was really windy all day, and we had to really focus on being together as a team,” he said. “The guys really looked after Alberto, constantly asking him, ‘Where are you? Are you with us?’
“It was all about just keeping that focus, keeping that motivation. And then they brought him into the final really, really nicely. It’s amazing to get a stage win,” said the British director, who still seemed like he didn’t quite believe it had actually happened.
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Winston explained that the key to the German team’s success since the start of the Giro has been “focusing on the process,” whether that be when it comes to supporting team leader Romain Bardet on key GC stages, which has helped the Frenchman climb to fourth overall, or when Dainese has had the chance to demonstrate his prowess as a sprinter.
“We knew that we were in a good spot,” Winston said. “We’re holding a good position on GC. And we rode really well as a team in the first week. So we said on the rest day, ‘Let’s keep that momentum going and it will come. We will come out in this race in a really good way.’ So it’s nice that it’s come directly, just two days later.”
Now in his third season with the team, Dainese arrived on the back of a very successful stint with the SEG Racing Academy class of 2019 that has also produced DSM GC prospect Thymen Arensman, BikeExchange-Jayco sprinter Kaden Groves and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Ide Schelling.
He was European under-23 champion that season and had three podium finishes on his grand tour debut at the Vuelta a España last year, which included a second place behind Quick-Step’s Fabio Jakobsen on stage 8.
Matt Winston: ‘We knew how talented Alberto was’
According to Winston, getting the Italian in the right place to turn those near-misses into a first grand tour win has been a key focus for the team.
“We knew how talented Alberto was. And we kept saying to him, ‘When you get clear at the line, then the chance will come.’ And today he got that clear run,” Winston said. “He came out of the bubble at just the right moment and showed he had some really good speed to take the victory.
“To be honest, it’s all about making steps and we kind of said, ‘Let’s just start doing consistent sprints,’” said Winston when asked if Dainese and the team had been focused on any other rival sprinters. “That’s the important thing with sprinting, being consistent.
“We’ve done a couple of top 10s, and we were building. In sprinting, you can be concerned about everyone. There are 20 guys that are all sprinting. They can all sprint to top 10s, and I think it’s all about just focusing on your sprint, being in the right spot ,and taking that momentum.”
Winston was full of praise for the performance of every member of the DSM line-up, for the way they worked together and stuck together.
“I knew the guys were together. I could hear that in the radio when they talking to each other,” he said. “Romain was there, Cees Bol, Nico Denz –who’s normally in the leadout train but had ridden on the front pretty much all day to keep Romain out of trouble. They dropped him off in that sprinters’ bubble, where he needed to be, and then he could kind of surf that last 200 meters and pop out in the last 100.”
He pointed out that team leader Bardet, who could have focused purely on defending his own GC hopes, had played a critical part in the win.
“He was there in the lead-out in the last two kilometres. He’s going for GC, but he’s there, he’s in the front, he’s bringing the guys forward,” Winston said.
“And he was the guy on the radio in that last 20km talking to Alberto the whole time, giving him motivation,” he said. “And I think that just shows how good as a team we are at the moment and in what a good position we are. We’ll take the race as it comes, we’ll keep fighting and hopefully we’ll finish in the best possible GC spot we can by Verona.”