MILANO, Italy (VN) – Nine North Americans started the 94th Giro d’Italia and five made it to the finish line Sunday to complete a brutal Italian tour.
Five of the nine were making their grand-tour debuts while Michael Barry (Team Sky) was the most veteran, with nearly a dozen grand tours in his legs. Three crashed out with injuries while Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) went home to mourn the death of his best friend, Wouter Weylandt.
There were no individual victories among the North American group, but two North American-registered teams – Garmin-Cervélo and HTC-Highroad – each had stints in the pink jersey and left the Giro with stage victories.
Peter Stetina (Garmin-Cervélo) led the way with 22nd overall in a promising grand-tour debut that included solid work for the team’s GC man, Christophe Le Mével, as well as a strong final week in the Alps.
Here’s a roundup of how the North Americans fared in the Giro and the finish-line reactions Sunday from the five who made it to Milano:
BMC: Chris Barton (DNF S7), Chad Beyer (152nd at 4h29:36) and Chris Butler (DNS S5): All three made their grand-tour debuts. BMC pulled Mauro Santambrogio and Alessandro Ballan after links to a doping investigation and named Barton and Butler as last-minute replacements. Butler crashed in stage 3 and later discovered he had fractured his hip, prompting his exit in stage 6. Barton pulled out in stage 5 with a knee injury. Beyer made it to Milano: “It was a dream come true to race the Giro. It was a hard race, but I was able to make it here, so I am very satisfied about that.”
HTC-Highroad: Craig Lewis (DNF S18): Lewis was closing in on completing his second consecutive Giro when he hit a signpost during the rainy 19th stage, leaving him with a broken femur and two fractured ribs. HTC-Highroad sport director Valerio Piva said Lewis made a jump in quality: “Craig really stepped up this year. He was having a great Giro. Now we don’t know how long we will lose him. He really did a great job for us in this Giro.”
Team Sky: Michael Barry (54th at 2h03:57): The Canadian was the most veteran among the young North American contingent. Barry started the Giro a little short on fitness after falling sick in February at the Volta a Algarve. His first full stage race of the season came at the Tour de Romandie in late April: “It feels good to be done. It was a hard Giro this year, not just for the hard courses, but there was a lot of time on the bus. I think there are a lot of tired riders. Throughout the race, my fitness improved despite being sick this spring.”
RadioShack: Bjorn Selander (129th at 3h50:13): Selander started the Giro off with a bang to win the young rider’s white jersey in the team time trial and defended it for two days. “This Giro was awesome. It was hard, but coming into the finish today, to finish this race on such a hard course is awesome. It was hard at the time, but when I look back now, it’s cool. It was great to have the white jersey at the start of the Giro,” Selander said. “I had some struggles, but I worked through them. I was here to work for the team. I am satisfied that I still have some power in the final week. Now that I know what a grand tour is like, I have more ambitions to do better.”
Garmin-Cervélo: Tyler Farrar – DNS S5, Thomas Peterson (89th at 2h55:47) and Peter Stetina (22nd at 50:09) – Farrar won two stages last year, but pulled out of the Giro after his best friend, Wouter Weylandt of Leopard-Trek, died in a tragic accident on stage 3.
Stetina was the top North American with 22nd overall in an excellent grand-tour debut that will fuel his ambitions for the future. Stetina did solid work to help Garmin’s GC man, Christophe Le Mével, and then had enough in the tank to ride strong into the final week.
“It felt good to finish today. I rolled it and enjoyed it, it’s over now. Now I am going to go on vacation in Switzerland in a bed and breakfast without any internet. I am going to go off the grid for a few days,” Stetina said. “I like these grand tours. This experience gave me a good taste in my mouth. Now I am hungry for more.”
Peterson, meanwhile, started the Giro with a cold, but battled through to ride strongly into the final week in the mountains.
“I was much better in the last three days. I ended up working for Christophe. I am pretty happy how it turned out. I am disappointed that I was sick for the first two-thirds of the race, but to recover from a virus in a grand tour is a good sign,” Peterson said. “I would have liked to have won a stage, but a lot of that didn’t work out because I was sick.”