On the Giro d'Italia's third rest day and with six days to race, Team Sky> is on track for one of its quietest Grand Tours since it began in 2010. It scored two second places – one with Ben Swift in Dublin and one with Dario Cataldo at Oropa – but those fail to compare its past victories.
"Coming here, the plan was different," sports director, Dario Cioni told Cycling Weekly. "We usually go into a Grand Tour with a GC favourite. Obviously, Brad [Wiggins] was racing the Tour of California, Richie [Porte] had problems and we wanted him to focus on the Tour. It would've been different if he was here for GC."
Sky debuted in the Grand Tours with a pink jersey. Wiggins won the Giro d'Italia's time trial in Amsterdam and carried it for one day. It held the leader's jersey in the other Grand Tours, the Vuelta a España and the Tour de France, and of course, won the latter twice with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
This year, Sky revamped its Giro d'Italia team heading towards the race. Porte, who had been earmarked to lead the black and blue team, fell sick and missed vital racing days. On the eve of the Giro, it changed the team again, putting in Chris Sutton for an ailing Pete Kennaugh.
The moves freed the team to take on a multi-prong approach: Swift and Edvald Boasson Hagen for the flat stages, Cataldo for the mountain ones and Kanstantsin Siutsou for the overall classification.
Swift and Cataldo came close. Swift encountered a super Marcel Kittel in Dublin, who remounted and bettered Sky's flawless lead-out. Cataldo timed his move up to Oropa well to beat Jarlinson Pantano, but neither counted on Enrico Battaglin.
A crash on the stage to the Santuario di Oropa dashed Siutsou's classification hopes. He abandoned, but fortunately, the fall did not fracture any bones and only caused "muscular issues with his back."
It is hard for one specifically to quantify the positive and negative performances of teams because each one goes into a Grand Tour with different purposes and in various phases of its existence. However, one could consider Sky's Giro ride its worst Grand Tour yet based on results.
The assessment could be easily drawn if one looks at what other teams accomplished. Bardiani – a second division team, with a much smaller budget of around €3m – has won twice already in the first 15 days of the Giro.
"But just consider, Bardiani had zero stage wins a few days ago. Now they have two. The situation can change quickly for us, too," Cioni said.
"The initial goal was to place one rider in the top 15 and to win to stages. Obviously, the GC situation is compromised by Kosta's crash, but we feel that a stage win is still possible in this last week of the Giro."
Close second place for Dario Cataldo on stage 14 as he is passed by Enrico Bataglin in final metres
Sky will 'keep trying and catch Kittel off guard' in fight for Giro d'Italia stage wins
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