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"I was one of the favourites. On one hand, I was glad for the recognition of my potential but to be included on the list of favourites makes it more difficult to reach such a challenging target as it is to win a Giro stage," Uliss...

Photo: Sirotti










14.05.2014 @ 21:01 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Going into the Giro d'Italia, Diego Ulissi has red-circled today's stage as one of his big objectives and he delivered on his promises by taking a convincing sprint victory in Viggiano. However, the Italian had felt the pressure from being marked out as one of the favourites to win the stage.


Diego Ulissi had a disappointing Ardennes campaign and so headed into the Giro d'Italia determined to make amends. Without a focus on the GC, he had set his sights on taking a stage win and he reached his target on the first possible occasion.


Today's uphill sprint in Viggiano was perfectly suited to a puncheur like Ulissi and so it was no surprise that he had marked it out as one of his best opportunities of the entire race. He showed how excellent he performs in these kind of finishes when he produced a fabulous sprint to put one second into his rivals and take what almost looked like a solo victory.


Heading into the stage, many pundits - CyclingQuotes included - had marked him out as one of the favourites and while he was pleased with the recognition, he had also felt the burden of expectations.


When I looked at the race handbook before the Giro, I earmarked this stage because the finish lent itself perfectly to my characteristics," he said. "It’s no secret thatI like this type of finish, and the press had included me among the favourites.


"I liked the course a lot, with a climb where I could use my speed. I was one of the favourites. On one hand, I was glad for the recognition of my potential but to be included on the list of favourites makes it more difficult to reach such a challenging target as it is to win a Giro stage.


"Thanks to my team, I didn't fell the pressure. I arrived in the finale with all the energy needed to be with the best. It was a very hard finish after a stage ridden in wind and rain.


"I was held up behind a fall on a climb, 17 km from the finish, where I had to put a foot down. My team-mates brought me up to the group, and when Moreno attacked, I was 5th wheel: I didn’t want to be at the front in the sprint because of the wind.


"Quintana couldn’t keep the rhythm, so a gap opened. My team-mates closed it and led me up to Matthews' wheel. Then the sprint started, and it went well for me.


"I managed the situation well and I rode a wise race. In addition to good legs, these two elements made the difference and allowed me to enjoy a stunning victory by beating great athletes.


"I thank my teammates. we are a united and strong group which is also demonstrated by the good performance of top men Niemiec and Cunego. I share the joy of victory with all of our sponsors.


"Winning a stage at the Giro is wonderful for an Italian rider, and it’s doubly important because I’ve beaten real champions today. I’ve always wanted to develop gradually.


"I turned professional very young - I’m still 24 - but I’ve won 16 races, 2 Giro stages (the first at Tirano in 2011), other World Tour stages, and, in the last 2 years, I’ve improved, thanks, in part, to Michele Bartoli, who is an fantastic coach and a great motivator.


"Sometimes I ‘m beaten before I start, so I need to improve in that, and Michele really helps me with my confidence. Last night, before I went to bed, I visualised winning and then going through all the commitments that come afterwards, and it helped me.


"I had a disappointing Ardennes classics season this spring, and I hope it doesn’t happen again. In fact, I’m hoping that this Giro turns things around for me.”


For Lampre-Merida's two GC riders, Damiano Cunego and Przemyslaw Niemiec, it was a solid day as both finished with the favourites.


"It's a beautiful victory," Cunego said. "The morale of the whole team benefits from this. Personally, I'm glad I had some good feelings on the climb. I was strong and my legs responded well."


"Today's finish was very complicated, especially because of the fast pace," Niemiec said. "Day after day, my condition becomes better. Tomorrow will be another important test."



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