Davide Appollonio, Giro d'Italia 2011, stage six

The whole family was out in force to congratulate Team Sky talent Davide Appollonio after his fifth place finish in Fiuggi Terme.

Kisses and hugs from mum and dad, pats on the back from the rest of the family; there was a lot of pride at the strong showing in his local stage.

Along with Peter Kennaugh, Grand Tour debutant Appollonio is another one of Sky's youngsters who have shown they can mix it with the best in the Giro's first week.

"I live 100 kilometres from here [Isernia, in the Molise region]," he explained when we inquired about the post-stage Appollonio family gathering. "It would have been better to win, but this is a good result for me," he said with a wry smile.

"For my characteristics, this [draggy, uphill] finish was perfect. They were going really fast. I was in last position with five kilometres to go and the team did a great job. I was a bit behind in the last kilometre but I think I did a really impressive sprint."

What would constitute a good Giro for Appollonio? "I'd like to finish in the top ten a few more times; if I manage to finish the Giro, it'll do a lot for my experience. If not, I'll be happy anyway." His task is to look after Thomas Lofkfvist.

Quick starter

Though one of the youngest riders in the race, Appollonio's slightly-thinning black curly hair adds several years to his appearance.

He has already impressed in his first eighteen months as a professional, notably taking two second places in Tour of Med sprint stages this year.

He also won a Tour of Limousin stage and was second in the GP Fourmies and Tour de Vendee as a Cervélo Test Team neo-pro last year before the team folded.

"It was lucky that I found Sky, and I think I'm starting this season like I finished last year. I'm only 21 too," he said.

Appollonio finished sixth in the Giro's second stage into Parma too, and now sits seventh in the points classification.

Appollonio's "dream" Giro

Appollonio thinks of his home tour with fondness. "When I was really young, the Giro passed by two or three times. I always said ‘one day, I'd like to race with them'. But it was just a thought."

His favourite rider while growing up was Paolo Bettini, someone who Appolliono aspires to ride like in the future.

"Now that racing the Giro is a reality, I'm really happy. And already two finishes in the top ten, it's like I'm dreaming, and I hope to never wake up," he joked.

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