Philip Deignan targets pink in Giro D’Italia

Irish rider feels he may need time to hit top gear following injury


Philip Deignan has said that he will target the pink jersey early on in the Giro d’Italia, but he believes it might take him a little longer to reach top form and feels that the third week of the race could be his best opportunity for success.

The Donegal rider is one of three Irish competitors lining out in the Italian Grand Tour in Belfast on Friday, with the race’s debut there marking the first time it has started outside mainland Europe.

Team time trial
Stage one is a team time trial, with road race stages finishing in Belfast and Dublin following on Saturday and Sunday respectively

Deignan hopes that he and his Sky team shine, but accepts that his own personal condition should be better later in the race.

“At the start of the race I need to be realistic. I am feeling good but I am still a couple of weeks behind where I would ideally like to be,” he said, referring to the disruption to his form caused by a collarbone break in February.

“So it is maybe not a bad thing looking at the last week of the race and seeing how tough it is . . . the third week is going to be the hardest. Coming in a little bit fresh and a little bit under-raced might work to my advantage in that situation.

“I will definitely have my eye on a couple of stages in the second half of the race and use the first half to just ride into it. I’ll also help the other guys too.

“Obviously for Ben (Swift) and Eddy (Boasson Hagen), there will be a few stages there that will suit them. I will try to help them out as best as I can as well.”

Deignan won a stage in the 2009 Vuelta a España and on top form is capable of taking another Grand Tour victory.

Before then, though, he will do his utmost to take the coveted Maglia Rosa early on. Sky have a good record at team time trials and Friday’s flat, fast 21.7-kilometre race from Titanic Belfast to Belfast City Hall should suit the squad.

“It would be the dream scenario to take the pink jersey. That would be the fairy tale outcome. But it is going to be tough to beat some of the others,” he said. “I know Omega Pharma and Orica GreenEdge have brought teams here specifically to go for the team time trial with.

“They are going to be difficult to beat. But the team has always performed strongly in the past in this discipline. So we will give it a lash anyway, we’ll see.”

Also aiming for pink will be the other two Irish riders in the race, Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff Saxo) and Dan Martin (Garmin Sharp). Their participation alongside Deignan makes it the first time in over two decades that three Irish riders take part in a Grand Tour, giving Irish fans plenty to cheer.

Big relief
For Deignan, making the race is important, and also a big relief after his injury.

“I have been pro now 10 years and I have only raced in Ireland a few times,” he said. “I think I did the Tour of Ireland back in 2009 and I did the national championships a few times. So racing here is not something I get to do often . . . that makes it even more special, particularly with all my family and friends coming to watch.”

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