Ireland's Philip Deignan placed ninth in the Vuelta a España two years ago, but still continues to learn. This week he races towards the end of his sixth Grand Tour participation, the Giro d'Italia.
"Every one you do is always different, sometimes you start good and sometimes you finish bad, your sensations are always changing," Radioshack's Deignan told Cycling Weekly. "I am still learning."
Deignan rocketed to the top at the Spanish Grand Tour in 2009, he won the leg to Avila and closed the race ninth overall behind Alejandro Valverde.
He suffered a setback ahead of the Giro d'Italia, he became sick and stopped training for a week. However, over the course of the Giro's three weeks he has gradually improved, even if the results don't show his progress.
The 27-year-old is 51st overall after two and a half weeks of racing in what many consider as the hardest Grand Tour in some years.
"There's been so much climbing from the start and then those three mountain stages. Every day, long stages and it's pretty stressful, technical roads and descents. It's taken its toll on the riders, you could see it today, everyone was really suffering."
He finished 89th yesterday on the Alpine run to Tirano, which covered the Passo Tonale and Aprica.
"This race is the toughest Grand Tour I've seen in my career," Radioshack's sports director, Viatcheslav Ekimov told Cycling Weekly. "Look at all the transfers, all the stages of six or seven hours. The three days in the mountains. It makes no sense, there's no tactics left, it's just like a survival camp, the race is from the back."
Ekimov raced the Tour de France 15 times, the Giro d'Italia twice and the Vuelta a España twice. He complemented Deignan's time trial and climbing abilities, but agrees with his rider, that he has more to learn.
"He's a strong rider, but sometimes he needs to find a way to motivate himself and to be more aggressive in the race. If I was his coach, I'd suggest that he finds a way to fight for a good place in the peloton, not at the back," added Ekimov.
"Obviously, we expected a little bit more from Philip, but okay, we started the race with a clear leader Tiago Machado. Many times, Philip was in the service of Machado, so we can't complain."
Deignan and his team also may be stressed by the police drug search on Monday, the race's second rest day. Deignan's attitude seemed to change when Cycling Weekly asked about it, and why Radioshack's team manager, Johan Bruyneel left the same day.
"The police came, they searched the bus and the truck, they found nothing. We have nothing to hide anyway," Deignan continued.
"Bruyneel was only planning to stay for that length of time, he didn't go home because of that."
He added that he's focused on finishing his fifth Grand Tour. Ekimov said that Deignan may be suited to Saturday's stage to Sestriere. If not, Deignan may have more chances in the Tour de France. He is currently on the long list of 15 riders.
Giro d'Italia 2011: Latest news
Giro changes again as final Milan time trial shortened
What riding the Giro has done for Peter Kennaugh
Millar's time trial practice run
Nibali gives up hope for Giro d'Italia win
Contador ignores Armstrong doping investigation
Giro d'Italia News Shorts (May 24)
Controversial Crostis climb removed from Giro route
Sky leader Lofkvist loses more time at the Giro
Giro contenders struggle with Contador's dominance
Contador widens Giro advantage but Tour doping case waits
Porte reflects, one year after Giro success
Le Mevel goes on attack for Giro's pink jersey
Giro fines Contador for missing press conference
Cavendish responds to 'team car' accusations at Giro
Giro d'Italia News Shorts (May 15)
Giro's Sicilian cyclists proud to face Mount Etna
Contador surprises at Giro with attack ahead of mountains
Contador minds food at Giro as CAS decision nears
Weening supported by Rabobank and model Kroes
Local lad Appollonio bears fruit in Fiuggi
Giro d'Italia News Shorts (May 12 edition)
Blythe finding way in second Grand Tour
Leopard-Trek withdraws from Giro d'Italia
Leopard-Trek uncertain to continue in Giro
Tuesday's Giro stage in memory of Weylandt
Giro doctor describes actions to save Weylandt
Wouter Weylandt killed in Giro crash
Giro news shorts (May 8)
Cavendish likely to take Giro lead tomorrow
Giro 2011: Who will win?
Giro d'Italia 2011: Stage reports
Stage 17: Ulissi prevails in controversial Giro sprint
Stage 16: Contador lords it over the rest in Giro TT
Stage 15: Nieve wins mountain marathon as Contador continues at the top
Stage 14: Anton conquers Zoncolan in shortened stage
Stage 13: Contador consolidates Giro overall as Rujano takes stage
Stage 12: Cavendish holds off Appollonio to take second victory
Stage 11: Gadret grabs dramatic stage win
Stage 10: Cavendish opens his Giro account
Stage nine: Contador storms Etna to take Giro lead
Stage eight: Gatto springs late attack to take win
Stage seven: Neo-pro De Clercq wins by a whisker
Stage six: Ventoso steals Giro stage six win
Stage five: Weening holds on to take stage and maglia rosa
Stage four: Tearful Farrar and Leopard-Trek lead riders across stage four finish line
Stage three: Vicioso victory overshadowed by Weylandt crash
Stage two: Petacchi wins as Cavendish takes lead
Stage one: HTC-Highroad wins Giro's opening team time trial
Giro d'Italia 2011: Photo galleries
Stage 17 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 16 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 15 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 14 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 13 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Giro d'Italia 2011: Live text coverage
Giro d'Italia stage 16 live text updates
Giro d'Italia 2011 stage 13 live text updates
Giro d'Italia 2011 stage 11 live text updates
Giro d'Italia 2011 stage seven live text updates
Giro d'Italia 2011 stage five live text updates
Follow the 2011 Giro d'Italia live with Cycling Weekly
Giro d'Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d'Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d'Italia 2011: TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2011: British Eurosport TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
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