Uijtdebroeks has more bad news for ailing Visma | Lease a Bike (but aggressive Tratnik may offer him hope) Cycling

Uijtdebroeks has more bad news for ailing Visma | Lease a Bike (but aggressive Tratnik may offer him hope)

Uijtdebroeks has more bad news for ailing Visma | Lease a Bike (but aggressive Tratnik may offer him hope)

Visma | Lease a Bike began the tenth stage of the Giro d'Italia with a hangover due to the withdrawal of Olav Kooij, but after a tough mountain stage, they were fairly satisfied. Classification rider Cian Uijtdebroeks lost some time and didn’t feel his best, but Jan Tratnik almost managed a successful bid for the stage win at Bocca della Selva.

Tratnik was present in a breakaway of about thirty riders. "I knew there were lighter riders in the breakaway who would climb much better than me. That’s why I figured I had to anticipate earlier, which was a good move. I went for it just before the final climb at a great moment, as the organization within the group was lacking and there had already been some attempts to break away," said the Slovenian rider about the moment where he began his long solo.

Good chance we'll see the now-recovered-from-that-cough Tratnik in the breakaways more often

For a while, he had a realistic shot at the stage win, but ultimately Valentin Paret-Peintre (Decathlon AG2R) and Romain Bardet (dsm-firmenich PostNL) proved too strong. "For me, it was good and it went well, but unfortunately, it wasn't for today. However, I am happy with my performance and have gained confidence for the stages to come."

That’s what you call a near-miss. Tratnik felt it coming, which he also told Eurosport. "Four kilometers from the finish, I felt the fatigue start to hit. It started to feel different and when I looked back, I saw them passing me at double my speed. I still fought my way to the finish and I can definitely be satisfied with third place."

"After all the bad luck we've had, this is also a nice boost," Tratnik also told several other media outlets, including IDLProCycling.com. "We're down to just five guys, but we're still in the race and want to compete. If an opportunity presents itself, we'll take it again. What inspired me to go for it today? Everyone wants to win a stage in a grand tour!" he says unambiguously.

Tratnik says Kooij is unlucky, but what about his team leader?

"We are here for the best possible results," Tratnik continued. "Olav's stage win gave us a boost, so it's extra unfortunate that he had to go home. But we haven't lost our confidence and hope. Every day there are new opportunities. You have to seize them as quickly as possible, because before you know it – in a few nights' time – it's all over!"

Finally, Tratnik also mentioned that he had been riding with an annoying cough for about three days (between the gravel stage and Pravo ti Tivo). "It was a bit unpleasant, but I think I'm almost completely over it, it's only bothering me a little now. It wasn't like I felt sick. Sure, I wasn't feeling 100 percent fit, but it was mainly just annoying. But I certainly saw the difference between how I race now and how I rode during those three days. On the first two days, I actually felt very good. I was always among the first 25 riders. And not much later, that cold started to bother me a bit."

Talking about Tratnik’s soon-to-be-resolved cold, the conversation of course led us to Kooij, who did not start today. "I think everyone reacts differently to such a cough," Tratnik thinks. "It's like with COVID. Some people get infected and don't notice anything, others are bedridden for two weeks. You can compare it to that. So it seems that Olav had to deal with that. Unfortunately, he developed a fever. I also had to deal with that shit, but I only felt slightly unwell, and fortunately, it wasn't too bad. Olav was definitely an unlucky guy."

Uijtdebroeks said he also did not feel totally healthy

Uijtdebroeks of course came up as well, as the ever-smiling Flemish rider had to concede a dozen seconds in the final kilometers. "It was already a tough day and I was a bit too far back, but I noticed that I wasn't totally healthy. To put it that way," he explained, considering the circumstances described above.

"I hope I can recover from this and that this was the worst day," the Belgian added with a forced grin. "It's spreading in the peloton, so I hope it doesn't get worse. However, I believe I'm recovering well. Let's say the rest day was the worst, so it was already somewhat better today. The upcoming days are relatively easy, which should allow for further recovery. The big days come over the weekend, so I need to ensure I'm ready by then."

In the battle for the white jersey, Antonio Tiberi made a good move. "He's explosive and a good time trialist, but we'll see how he handles the high altitudes in the third week. For now, I'm mainly focusing on myself," Uijtdebroeks added cautiously. "We knew he would attack, he's riding strongly. That's why Bahrain Victorious pushed the final climb very fast. So, I had to rely on chasing, which became more challenging with slightly compromised health."

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