Frank Schleck may be the surprise package of this year's Giro d'Italia, but we'll need to wait until the third week to find out. Despite two mid-mountain stages, including today's stage to Rocca di Cambio, the favourites are still tightly packed on the GG.
"It's fair enough to say everyone's scared of the last week," RadioShack-Nissan's Schleck told Cycling Weekly. "It's going to be a hard last week, so we have to wait until then. I think everyone's scared and waiting."
Schleck placed third today in Rocca di Cambio, one place behind Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), and gained eight bonus seconds. He lost seven seconds to Scarponi, but gained eight seconds on Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), 10 on Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), 14 on Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), 16 on Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD).
The last two legs, with temperatures in the upper 20°s, are taking their toll, though.
"It's hard for everyone. Yesterday's stage wore everyone down, including myself. It was okay for me, I felt good and I hope the shape is coming slowly."
Schleck arrived to the Giro d'Italia at the last minute to replace team-mate Jakob Fuglsang. The team called a week before and asked him to get ready while he was enjoying time off after the Ardennes Classics. At the time, he was with his daughter Leea in the park.
He was due to race the Tour of Luxembourg and Switzerland. Then, the plan was for him to join his brother Andy for the Tour de France. After he heard about the Giro, he said that he started to train and review the Giro's stages.
"It was like a cold shower for me at first," he said ahead of the race. "Then I had a look at the Giro book, there are good opportunities. I'm happy to be here."
After one week of racing, 1066.9 kilometres, Schleck sits 12th, 48 seconds behind Hesjedal. He hopes that as the race heads north to the Alps, he'll find his optimum form to contend for the overall.
"That's what I'm trying to do, yeah... So, we'll see. I don't want to say anything more at this point, I just want to see how it goes," Schleck said. "I'm not there 100 per cent. I hope everything goes okay [this weekend] and then we'll see."
Schleck typically competes in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España during the season. He placed fifth in the Tour de France in 2009 behind Alberto Contador. He only raced the Giro once in 2005, then helping CSC team-mate Ivan Basso.
Giro d'Italia 2012: Latest news
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Giro d'Italia 2012: Live coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012 live text coverage schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage seven: Hesjedal moves into Giro lead
Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win
Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win
Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead
Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash
Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning
Stage one: Phinney wins time trial
Giro d'Italia 2012: Photo galleries
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery
Giro d'Italia 2012: Teams and riders
Giro d'Italia 2012 start list
Giro d'Italia 2012: TV guide
Giro d'Italia 2012: British Eurosport TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: The Big Preview
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