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As the Giro d’Italia rolls through its first week, American Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling) is looking for breakaway opportunities while also looking for form after what he calls a “bumpy” past few weeks.
Speaking with CyclingTips at the race’s start in Apeldoorn, the 25-year old from Michigan admitted he was “kind of overcooked” when he raced the Vuelta a Catalunya at the end of March, and has been struggling since.
A bit of sickness after the Vuelta al Pais Vasco required him to take a few days of recovery just as the Ardennes classics began. While he “didn’t really feel awesome” at the hilly classics, his form began to come around, and he hopes he continues to improve throughout the three-week race. It’s the first Giro d’Italia for Warbasse, a two-time finisher at the Vuelta a España.
“I guess I’m a little unsure how I am going to be, and that’s a little bit worrisome when you are coming into a grand tour,” Warbasse said, calmly and softly. But the words that flowed reflected an uneasiness about what’s to come.
“I have been strong, but I haven’t had the most amazing sensations,” he said. “I haven’t felt like I am flying, and it would be a lot better to feel like you are flying than to feel unsure. But you know the only thing you can do is have a little faith and give it your best. We’ll see, I guess.”
IAM came to the Giro without a general classification contender, turning most of its attention in hopes of claiming a stage with sprinter Matteo Pelucchi, a rider Warbasse insists is capable of “out-sprinting” the fastest sprinters.
Warbasse said he’ll help to assist the sprint train the best he can, but the mountain stages are where he will hopefully stretch his legs.
“My role here is to go into breakaways and be more aggressive when we get to the third week and the middle stages,” he said. “Any mountain day where there is a good breakaway, I’m going to try to be in it. I think really any stage that is not a mountaintop finish, if there’s not a dangerous move, then [the peloton] could let [the break] go.”
There is one mountaintop finish Warbasse has his eyes on, and a smile came across his face as he talked about it.
“The one I am most looking forward to is stage 20,” Warbasse said with a grin. “It’s pretty epic, and that is actually where a few of us go to do training pretty frequently throughout the year, as it is pretty close to Nice. We stay in Isola 2000 and that is the Col du Lombard, and that is the last big climb in the race, so I’m really looking forward to that stage.”
Stage 20 goes over three Category 1 climbs before a smaller Category 3 climb to the finish, living up to Warbasse’s claims. The peloton will traverse the Col de Vars, Col de la Bonette, and Col du Lombard with an astounding 4,100 meters of climbing packed into a mere 135 kilometers. Coming on the penultimate day, many in the peloton with be tired, and the chances of breakaway success could be at its highest of the entire race.
With the stage tackling his common training roads, Warbasse sees himself with a home field advantage. “If I could do something there, that would be huge because that’s sort of a home climb for me, and I probably know it better than almost everyone in the race. That would be awesome to do something there.”
First, however, Warbasse will need to make sure his body is ready. On Tuesday, following Stage 4, the IAM rider took to Twitter, seeking advice on an issue with numbness in his leg.
“Pinched nerve while stretching my hip last night, bottom half of my leg has been numb ever since. Anyone have experience with this? Solutions?”
In order to make it into breakaways — and in order to make it until Stage 20 — Warbasse will need to find his legs. For now, where he’ll be when the peloton reaches Torino on May 29 is an unknown.