This year’s Giro d’ Italia is considered the toughest on paper in recent memory. Alberto Contador said that some of the stages have given him nightmares. Tucked into the 207 strong peloton are two riders from Greenville, South Carolina – Craig Lewis of HTC-Highroad and first time Grand Tour rider Chris Butler in the red kit of BMC.
Carolina Cycling News will periodically check in with both riders for exclusive reports as they fight their way through the 21 stages of the Giro d’ Italia.
Today’s stage 1 was the team time trial. A coordinated cycling dance between the whole team, they must find that balance of riding as hard as possible but not burn off teammates while tucked into a barely stable aerodynamic position riding at 35 miles per hour. On a straight course this discipline can be tricky. However the Turin course started off technical which caused several close calls for the riders.
Craig Lewis described stage 1’s action to CCN.
“The course was what we have come to expect from RCS. Quite technical, but the worse part were the conditions of the turns. Railroad crossings were everywhere. Speed bumps, cobbles, manhole covers…you name it. Having the TTT in a big city like Torino makes for some difficult racing conditions.”
At the end of the day the HTC-Highroad squad came away with the leader’s pink jersey. So how does this affect the team strategy?
“We do have the pink jersey now, but that doesn’t really change our plan. Jersey or no jersey, we would still be looking to control the race for (Mark) Cavenish tomorrow. Then we will see. I think Pino (teammate Marco Pinotti) can keep the Jersey until Etna at least, but I do not think we have the big responsibility to control the race for the GC. We will focus on stages that are good for Cav for now.”
Does the leader’s jersey change his role in the team?
“My role on the team will be the same as always. Just to be there when needed. I’ve proven to be reliable and consistent, so I will be looking after Cav on the flats and Pino and Kosta in the mountains. If the chance to go away in a breakaway comes, I’ll take that and go for a stage.”
“Stage 1 – more like a stage 2 if we get to count the super long team presentation and transfers yesterday – was a TTT that was technical at the beginning and end, so the team took it easy on me and just let me cruise and surf the train.”
In the long-term this first-timer is looking to get some racing behind him and learn from this experience.
“I’m looking forward to getting the first week under my belt, then see how my legs are when the stage profiles go berserk! I’m in a good situation – given the circumstances of finding out I was doing my first grandie 5 days ago – because we have a young team with no big GC guy, so there won’t be too much pressure or responsibility put on me.”
You can follow Chris Butler on Twitter