Team Sky's Greg Henderson was an unwelcomed companion in the escape group in today's Giro d'Italia stage to Cesenatico. He had the strength to crawl back from several attacks, but no answer to a cunning Manuel Belletti (Colnago-CSF Inox).
"The Colnago rider was just clever. He stayed on my wheel and marked me when I made my last move," Henderson told Cycling Weekly.
"After the energy I had used, I didn't have anything left to sprint. He came around me as if I was standing still. Good on him, clever and well done."
Bradley Wiggins depends on New Zealand's Henderson to fight for the Giro d'Italia overall and his team placed him in a strategical escape today. Had Wiggins found himself in trouble and isolated on the day's last climbs then Henderson could drop back and help.
Once the climbs were covered, Henderson had a green light from Sky to vie for a win of his own. His only problem, though, was that he was the fastest rider in the group and he was not welcome.
"It was just a bloody slaughter fest. I had to crawl my way back after they unloaded me on that climb. They were really motivated to get rid of me."
He persisted and bridged back to the leading four riders in the final 10 kilometres. Once in the last kilometres, his biggest rival was his former Columbia team-mate, Craig Lewis.
"Every time I looked around, I had bloody Craig Lewis chasing me down. I was getting so frustrated with him. It was as if he was thinking, 'If Greg's there it's got to be a good move.' But he went slowly and he brought everyone up.
"There were a couple of chances there where I thought that I got away, but I looked around and Columbia is chasing me and I thought 'Ah, man!' But, that's just bike racing."
Lewis attacked with 1700 meters to race and looked as if he would win solo, but Henderson and Iban Mayoz (Footon-Servetto) pulled him back. The surge was the last that Henderson had and it was not enough to hold off Belletti.
"He just hammered me in the sprint."
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1