Jack Bauer of Mitchelton-SCOTT is right in the thick of the action as we head towards the end of week 1 at the Giro d’Italia. Bauer and the team haven’t gotten away completely unscathed amongst the crashes and carnage that come with a grand tour, but nevertheless Simon Yates sits second overall out of the GC contenders very much in the fight for pink.
The 2019 Giro d’Italia has been a race that Jack has long been looking forward to. The last time he lined up at the Giro was way back in 2012 when he was part of history being made for Ryder Hesjedal in one of the most electric endings of a grand tour in history that saw just 16 seconds separate the Canadian and Joaquim Rodriguez after the final day’s individual time trial.
Now he’s back and hopeful that he and the team can make right the oh-so-very-near miss of 2018 that saw Simon Yates spend two weeks in the maglia rosa before the Froome-frenzy in stage 19.
“We have been planning and building towards a real crack at the top step of the podium in Italy with Simon Yates since October,” Bauer told RoadCycling. “We have a really great group of guys to support him, and we’re hoping that along with his experience from last year this will make the difference this year round.”
Bauer’s only previous outing at the Giro d’Italia is one of four grand tour finishes to his name; with three finishes of the Tour de France. Bauer’s memories of the Giro in comparison to the Tour are influenced in part by the youthfulness of his career when he lined up for grand tour number 1 seven years ago.
“I have only ridden this race once back in 2012. I remember it being three weeks of learning the ropes, alongside Hesjedal and his GC win. It was pretty tough back then! This time round I know a little bit more what to expect,” Bauer said. “It is a lower stress race compared to France, much less of a pressure cooker.”
For Mitchelton-SCOTT this year’s race is very much about unfinished business and so far it’s gone . . . ok. The opening stage’s individual time trial saw Yates end the day in a very strong position after a scintillating display on the closing climb but he, along with several other GC contenders lost time in a late crash in stage 4. It wasn’t a lot of time, but it was a setback nonetheless that now puts the Brit 35 seconds behind overall leader Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma who, so far, has not put a foot wrong.
As Bauer gets set for more than 2 weeks of racing at the sharp end of the limits of human endurance he knows that six grand tour starts has changed him over the years; making him only ever-more ready for the chance to once again be at the centre of a victorious grand tour campaign.
“Like anything in life, it’s important to learn from past experiences and mistakes and take that moving forward. I try and do that year by year. Also in a sport like cycling you tend to get stronger year by year, and that definitely helps in 3 week racing.”