Jens Keukeleire made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d’Italia with Orica-GreenEDGE. He describes what he experience has been like in Italy (and Denmark) for you here:
I had my best finish today. I was 14th and Fumy Beppu was right in front of me in 13th. I wanted to do something in the sprint, and I have to say thank you to the team.
They kept me near the front in the final. I lack experience is sprints like this where the speed is so high and position in the final kilometers is absolutely critical. It’s too bad I couldn’t do more because I really felt good. I still have a lot to learn.
Today’s stage – stage 18 – was easy compared to the stage yesterday and the stages still to come. It was flat, almost downhill, all day. A lot of riders were happy for an easy ride because yesterday was so hard. We still rode competitively today, so it’s not like it was completely easy – more easy by comparison.
This race has been hard every day. I think the hardest days of the Tour will be the next two days we race. For me, the important thing when I started this Giro was to see Milan. That was the challenge. I wanted to finish my first Grand Tour and to come out of these three weeks of racing in the best possible way. This means that I’m not completely tired at the end, but I come out in rather good shape. The idea is that these three weeks help me get better for the rest of my season.
I always knew the Giro would be hard. I had a big program ahead of the Giro. I did all of the Classics, and then, after the Classics, I had a bit of rest. The first week would have been difficult regardless, but this made it even more difficult. The Giro was my first race since Amstel Gold.
I was told that normally I would feel better towards the end of the race, and that’s how things have gone. I suffered a lot in the beginning. The early stages in Italy were especially hard for me. As the race has unfolded, I have felt better and better each day. I wouldn’t say that it’s gotten easy, but I already feel better than I did in the first week.
I think the biggest difference between a single week stage race and a three week stage race is the fatigue. When the body starts to get tired in a single week race, the end is always within reach. With a Grand Tour, the body starts to get tired and the racing continues. There’s a certain point of fatigue that’s reached during these three weeks where it doesn’t seem as if the body will ever NOT be tired. It’s also the kind of tired where it doesn’t seem like any more fatigue is possible. That’s a big difference than shorter races.
I knew this race would be tough to finish, and the end is now within my reach. I’m still not there. I still have two hard days to go. I’m happy to have gotten this far, and I feel good about my chances to get to Milan on Sunday.