Sky's Irish rider Philip Deignan has earmarked a few stage of this year's Giro d'Italia
“I won’t say which ones, but I have my eyes on a few stages,” Sky’s Irishman told Cycling Weekly. “I’ve already tried a few times. It’s been quite difficult to get into the escapes so far, but there’s still a few that I have my eye on, even if I know that many guys are eyeing these stages, as well.”
The 30-year-old forms part of Sky’s open team. Its nine men – without GC stars like Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Richie Porte – are free to try for their own chances. Ben Swift and Edvald Boasson Hagen have been sprinting, Swift placed eighth yesterday in Salsomaggiore Terme, and Dario Cataldo and Kanstantsin Siutsou are trying in the mountains. Deignan, though, wants to escape as he did to win the Vuelta stage in Avila.
“I’m not too bad. I came into the race a little under-raced because I broke my collarbone in a training crash. I only had [seven] days of racing in my legs when we started the Giro d’Italia in Belfast,” Deignan said.
“I knew it’d be about trying to get through the first 10 days and then hopefully see what I can do in the last week. It’s about saving energy too. If you ride easy up the last climb, and you do that for a few days, it makes a big difference for the last week. You have to try to save as much energy as possible.”
Today’s stage at 249 kilometres was due to be the longest until the organiser added 10 kilometres on the stage last week to Montecassino. With its climb up the Naso di Gatto with 28.2 kilometres to race and a fast drop to Savona, it suits an escape. Deignan, however, will likely eye the stages further ahead like the ones to Oropa, Montecampione or Panarotta.
A win would cement his return to the first division and grand tours. He raced with teams Ag2r, Cervélo and RadioShack before stepping down to the second division in 2012. Sky called him back up for 2014 and even promised him a place in its Giro team.
“It was a surprise, to be honest, to come back to the WorldTour. I’ve already done six Grand Tours, so it’s not a huge shock to be back in a Grand Tour, but it does take a while to get back into racing three-week races, or for over two weeks.
“At United Healthcare, we did seven- to eight-day stage races. That was the longest we did, so it takes a bit to get used to these Grand Tours.
“Team Sky put its faith in me even with my collarbone setback and now, I’m ready for my chance to escape in the Giro d’Italia.”