Pieter Weening must survive two demanding stages in the Giro d'Italia if he wants to keep the leader's pink jersey. He has support, however, from Dutch super team, Rabobank and top model Doutzen Kroes.
The Victoria's Secret model wrote to Weening yesterday via Twitter after he won the race's fifth leg to Orvieto and took the leader's jersey. Though Kroes lives in New York and Weening races around the world, the two come from the same city in northern Holland, Harkma.
She wrote, "Congratulations" or "Lokwinske" in their local language. However, he'll need more than that to maintain his two-second advantage in the mountain stages to Montevergine tomorrow and Mount Etna on Sunday. They are the race's first mountaintop finishes, the latter currently is exploding lava.
"I hope," Weening told Cycling Weekly, "I will explode in a positive way."
Weening has a chance to survive, just as he survived the 2005 Tour de France stage to Gérardmer, his biggest win before yesterday. If he does, Kroes maybe calling or visiting him.
"I don't think he has a girlfriend," Sports director Nico Verhoeven told Cycling Weekly. "At least not officially."
Verhoeven confirmed with the team's mechanics, who said no, and Weening himself said no. So, he's only needs to survive the two mountains to increase his Dutch star status.
Verhoeven followed him as a sports director through the junior and under-23 ranks, always with team Rabobank. He heard the rumours that Weening was linked to the Vienna blood doping investigation. "Wenen" is Vienna in Dutch, which may have helped the links, or Bernhard Kohl may have given his name to investigators. Either way, Weening testified and never was charged.
"There were a lot of rumours, but I never heard that he was one of those guys," added Verhoeven. "I am 100 per cent sure he is clean and doing the sport in the right way. He was not so good in the last five years, not to say if he was doped he'd be better."
Weening is specifically concentrating on this Giro d'Italia. He may go on to help Robert Gesink at the Tour de France, but for now, his mind is on a top 10 or 15.
"For me, it's very hard to win the Giro," Weening said in a press conference. "If I can do a top ten, perfect, even a top 15. However, even that is hard, you can't have a bad day."
He came to the Giro in good form, he placed sixth overall at the Tour of Romandy. Verhoeven said that his rider has confidence, even more so after he won the stage yesterday. However, Weening won't change with one win or for Kroes, he's too grounded, his 10 older siblings probably kept him that way.
"Pieter is Pieter, sometimes he is different than the others," continued Verhoeven. "That's not bad, he's just different. He's special."
"I'm just quiet," Weening told Cycling Weekly. "I am often relaxed, whereas a lot of others are different, stressed."
That quiet coolness may see Weening up Montevergine and on to Etna. It may also bring about a Tweet or phone call from Kroes.
Giro d'Italia 2011: Latest news
Blythe finding way in second Grand Tour
Leopard-Trek withdraws from Giro d'Italia
Leopard-Trek uncertain to continue in Giro
Tuesday's Giro stage in memory of Weylandt
Giro doctor describes actions to save Weylandt
Wouter Weylandt killed in Giro crash
Giro news shorts (May 8)
Cavendish likely to take Giro lead tomorrow
Giro 2011: Who will win?
Kennaugh to lead Team Sky in Giro's opening stage
Nibali's Giro fight with Contador may reach the courtroom
Riis defends Contador's participation in Giro
Cavendish set to start winning again at the Giro
Doping investigations force cyclists out of Giro d'Italia
Kennaugh replaces Pauwels in Sky's Giro line-up
Contador scouts out the Giro mountains
Cavendish and Millar top list of Giro-bound Brits
Lampre likely for Giro despite doping investigation
Giro announces record 23 teams to race
2011 Giro to start in Turin with team time trial
Giro goes one up on the Tour with spectacular route
Nygaard, Sciandri and Lloyd comment on 2011 Giro route
Nibali's Giro d'Italia?
Giro d'Italia 2011: Stage reports
Stage six: Ventoso steals Giro stage six win
Stage five: Weening holds on to take stage and maglia rosa
Stage four: Tearful Farrar and Leopard-Trek lead riders across stage four finish line
Stage three: Vicioso victory overshadowed by Weylandt crash
Stage two: Petacchi wins as Cavendish takes lead
Stage one: HTC-Highroad wins Giro's opening team time trial
Giro d'Italia 2011: Photo galleries
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Giro d'Italia 2011: Live text coverage
Giro d'Italia 2011 stage five live text updates
Follow the 2011 Giro d'Italia live with Cycling Weekly
Giro d'Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d'Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d'Italia 2011: TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2011: British Eurosport TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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