Team Sky drove the race and its sprinter Greg Henderson perfectly into Brescia’s city centre today, the last sprint stage available in this year’s Giro d’Italia. Despite the precision execution, Germany’s Andre Greipel of HTC-Columbia got the win ahead of Sky’s New Zealander Henderson.
Bradley Wiggins, Mathew Hayman and then Chris ‘CJ’ Sutton led the race in the last kilometres, as sports director, Sean Yates had planned in the morning ahead of the 140-kilometre stage.
“The guys timed it right. Today we had an opportunity to get it all together, because before there was always a crash or a break didn’t come back,” Yates told Cycling Weekly.
“We put Chris Froome on the front straight away and, with HTC-Columbia, never let the escape get above 2’30″. We added in Dario Cioni and Steve Cummings because the escape was riding hard, but we were careful to save some guys for the final.”
HTC and Rabobank (for Graeme Brown) helped with the work to catch the two-man escape and then lead over the final kilometres. Sky was the most visible in the final kilometres and it looked as if after two recent misses (Bitonto and Cesenatico stages) that the team was going to pull off a sprint win in its first Grand Tour.
Once Sutton pulled off, though, Henderson was without response to his former team-mate, Greipel.
“There was just a slight drag uphill and we maybe started to lose a little bit of speed. It forced ‘CJ’ to go about 150 to 100 metres too early. It was so close to perfect, though, don’t get me wrong,” explained Henderson.
“It was still 350 metres to go, too far, but I couldn’t wait any longer. Greipel came, he is so strong on a straight line, like a big gorilla.”
Wiggins changed his lead out position from last man on the Bitonto stage to third to last man today. Yates and Henderson explained that was to use more of the Olympic champion’s power earlier and to avoid him being tangled up in the dangerous final metres.
“When it gets dicey, we don’t get to use his horsepower,” continued Henderson, “so he opened up today at 1.7K to go.”
“If we leave him until later,” added Yates, “it can get a bit squirrelly, and he doesn’t like that so much.”
Yates added that Wiggins will save himself as much as possible over the next two mountain stages to be ready for the final day’s 15-kilometre time trial in Verona. He wants to see Wiggins put winning bookends on the Giro d’Italia.
Giro d’Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
2010 Giro d’Italia coverage in association with Zipvit