For a man racing his first Giro d’Italia, Peter Kennaugh hasn’t shown many signs of nerves.
The Team Sky talent attacked at the foot of the Madonna della Grazie on Monday’s fateful stage, missing the decisive breakaway.
This afternoon into Orvieto, he showed his good condition again, placing twenty-fourth, just behind the favourites, after helping Thomas Lofkvist on the climb to the finish.
Kennaugh now lies 16th overall and third in the young rider’s competition, 22 seconds down on classification leader Steven Kruiswijk.
“I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going so far,” he told Cycling Weekly. “The legs are starting to feel better, it’s taken a while after the track, but day by day, I’ve been feeling a bit better.”
Though he will be primarily at Lofkvist’s disposal during the race, the 21 year old didn’t put past “maybe making some opportunities for myself on some of the stages. It’s not all for experience, but that’s part of it. The Giro means an awful lot to me.”
His first Grand Tour, last year’s Vuelta, was abruptly cut short when Team Sky abandoned the race after seven stages, due to the death of soigneur Txema Gonzalez.
Kennaugh is particularly keen on the race’s first two mountain stages. “I think stage seven [to Montevergine di Mercogliano] and nine [Messina to Mount Etna] are quite good, my kind of climbs, so I’ll try and test myself on there,” he said.
Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates praised Kennaugh: “He’s a class athlete and if there’s an opportunity, he’ll take it – if he’s able to. He knows how to be in the right place at the right time.”
However, Yates underlined the importance of completing the race for experience. “He’s got nothing to lose, but he can’t go mad and jeopardise his finishing of the Giro, go too deep on one stage and be screwed the next day.”
As for what kind of rider Kennaugh can be in the future, Yates said: “I think he’ll be a climber in the Contador mould. We saw last year at the Dauphiné: he rode well, had fun and knows how to position himself in the bunch.
“He liked the long climbs and settled down well on the likes of the Croix de Fer and Glandon. He’s still very young, he’s got a fair bit of maturity to go, so in five years time, he’ll be near his full potential. You can’t rush someone growing up.”
Can we expect to see Kennaugh featuring in the Dolomites and infernal climbs of the Giro’s third week? “Thomas [Lofkvist] is the GC leader, he’s been around the block. Who knows? A learning experience for Pete is the most important thing.
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Giro d’Italia 2011: Stage reports
Giro d’Italia 2011: Live text coverage
Giro d’Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d’Italia 2011: TV schedule