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.
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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.
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Giro d’Italia 2011: Stage reports
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: Start list
Giro d’Italia 2011: TV schedule