Giro d’Italia: Jan Tratnik keeps Visma-Lease a Bike’s fighting spirit alive

Visma-Lease a Bike have now lost four riders from the Giro, with Cian Uijtdebroeks the latest departee, but breakaway ambitions continue

Clock08:21, Wednesday 15th May 2024
Jan Tratnik was caught by Valentin Paret-Peintre just 2.3km from the line, before being dropped and forced to settle for third

© Getty Images

Jan Tratnik was caught by Valentin Paret-Peintre just 2.3km from the line, before being dropped and forced to settle for third

Visma-Lease a Bike’s Giro d’Italia has been a story of hard knocks with three riders forced to abandon ahead of stage 10, but despite those setbacks - and the subsequent abandon of Cian Uijtdebroeks on the morning of stage 11 - the team have won a stage and displayed their fighting spirit on Tuesday.

On stage 10 it was the turn of Jan Tratnik to raise the flag and the Slovenian infiltrated the day’s main break before taking off with 40km to go and the daunting prospect of climbing to the summit finish of Bocca della Selva on his own.

The soon to be out of contract rider almost made it to the finish, building out a lead of over a minute before a late resurgence from stage winner Valentin Paret-Peintre (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale) and second-placed Romain Bardet (dsm-firmenich PostNL) saw Tratnik overhauled in the final 3km before settling for third on the stage.

“I saw the group, with the breakaway, and there were plenty of really strong climbers. I knew that I didn’t have a chance against them and that I needed to attack solo. I came to the bottom of the climb with a good advantage but in the end, they passed me with double speed,” he told GCN at the finish of stage 10.

“I gave my maximum and I think that I can be happy, especially with all the setbacks. We won a stage but we lost Robert Gesink, Christophe Laporte and Olav Kooij. We are still fighting day by day and there are still opportunities to win the stage,” he added.

Tratnik’s tactics on the final climb were simple enough and hard to fault. He wanted to crack his opponents mentally before they gave in to the physical battle.

“I tried to set a high pace at the beginning to maybe show that I was strong and then maybe they’d lose hope but in the end, it was a really long climb and I’d been alone. They were stronger and I gave my maximum.”

The loss of Kooij was a major blow on the rest-day with the sprinter coming down with a fever. With so many more sprint stages to come and the Dutch rider in clear form after taking his maiden Grand Tour stage win, the team must redraw their battle lines as the second half of the race opens up.

“When Olav won he really lifted the team up and the atmosphere but then we heard on Sunday evening that he had a really high temperature because we were really disappointed because in the upcoming days, there are plenty of chances for sprinters and he showed that he can win. We had high ambitions with him but now we try with breakaways and supporting Cian,” Tratnik added, ambitions that will now be reduced to breakaways after Uijtdebroeks' withdrawal.

For everything you need to know about the 2024 Giro d'Italia, from the history of the race to this year's route and start list, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.

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