Giro d'Italia 2014: Niemiec hoping to survive first stages unscratched

Polish climber hoping to repeat last year's performance on Italian roads

Przemysław Niemiec started his 4th Giro d'Italia as one of Lampre-Merida's leaders and is targeting the general classification for the second consecutive year 34-year-old confirmed his Grand Tour aspirations with 3rd place in Giro del Trentino and active participation in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. 6th in Italy last year, he hopes to put his climbing prowess on display once again and finish among Giro's very best riders in Trieste.

I feel good, I think I'm well prepared for this race. You cannot win Giro in the first week but you can actually lose it there. In my opinion the route is harder than last year. It cannot be worse, at least in terms of weather conditions

- Niemiec wrote on his blog a couple of days before heading to Ireland.

Having spent most of his career in Italy, Niemiec is not a fan of flat stages, rain and bunch sprints. Cobbles are out of question - climbing is what he considers to be the best and most vital part of cycling craft. Irish part of the race is, for him, a matter of surviving and escaping all the dangers of roads of "Green Island" quite unharmed.

I'm a little afraid of first three stages - it's going to be rainy and cold. This will be a hard part of the race for me

- he said before team presentation in Belfast.

With an openining time trial in Belfast as the race's overture, Niemiec was only concerned with not losing time and repeating team's performance from last year.

Last year we did quite well in team time trials in Grand Tours, I think it should be similar.

Yesterday's performance was far from any team's expetations, however. Rain and wind along with mistakes in some of the corners saw the Italian squad lose 1:20 to Orica-GreenEdge - a poor start of a fight for maglia rosa.

It’s a pity we raced in adverse conditions: when we started, the roads were wet and we made some mistakes in the bends on the second part of the course. These errors caused the lost of seconds, then our riders chose not to risk in order to avoid to endanger our Giro d’Italia, that won’t be surely decided by this team time trial

– team manager Brent Copeland explained in a press release.

niemiec giro 2014

Italian roads, on contrary, are something that Niemiec is looking forward to. As a climber, he is particularly focused on final climbs and stresses that hard stages need to be managed wisely. Polish rider can be additionally motivated, as stage 6 finishes atop Monte Cassino - a place where in May of 1944, Polish army took the Nazi stronghold, marking one of the most famous battles in the history of the II World War.

I inspected the route of time trials and two other stages before Giro del Trentino. I have been racing in Italy for years, I know almost all the final climbs in the race

- Niemiec said confidently.

This year Lampre-Merida is again starting the race with two leaders, ready to play two cards in a three-week hand. Damiano Cunego wears number 100 and is named a co-leader of the team, although his results in Grand Tours over past year are not promising.

The team has two leaders. We will see how the race plays out. Further decisions will depend on our performance on first mountain stages but I think this year I will have some more space for myself

- Niemiec explained.

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