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.”
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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.
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Giro d’Italia 2011: Stage reports
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 2011: Start list
Giro d’Italia 2011: TV schedule