It’s been a fascinating three days in Israel, the first segment of the 2018 Giro d’Italia. Sam Bewley of Mitchelton-Scott has been a frequent feature at the front of the peloton, guarding his GC teammates Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates. We got to catch up with him as the race heads for Italy.
RC: First of all Giro part 1 out of the way and from our perspective anyway it looks like almost the ideal start for Mitchelton-Scott with Simon Yates’ time trial performance and no obvious problems in stages 2-3. How happy are you and the team with your results over the last three days?
Sam: We are happy, the race started well with Simon doing a great TT and Esteban being right in there around the other GC guys. The two road stages here have both been pretty hectic with pretty tricky finishes so it was important we didn’t loose any silly time and more important was to stay safe. We ticked those boxes and we head to Italy in a pretty good spot.
RC: Tell us about the experience of riding in Israel and being amongst a completely different culture to what you’d ever race in through the rest of the season.
Sam: It’s been pretty cool actually. I really didn’t know what to expect coming to a country that is pretty far from the cycling world. They did a good job and the amount of people on the side of the roads has been mind blowing; especially yesterday’s finish in Tel Aviv. I would go as far to say I’ve never seen that many people lining the last 10km of a bunch sprint stage.
RC: We’ve seen others do it too, but riders like yourself, like Tiago Machado, Yves Lampaert and Thomas De Gendt, make riding on the front look easy; but there’s clearly a lot going on. Tell us about the kind of day you’ll go through ‘simply’ working on the front for Simon and Esteban.
Sam: Hopefully we can avoid seeing too much wind in these first few days. It’s always about saving energy in the early stages of grand tours but you do have to put your nose in the wind when we’re needed. It’s just about guiding the guys around the bunch, making sure they are always in a good position, sheltered and never alone. Especially in the final 30kms when it starts to get hectic.
RC: The Giro is full of stages that aren’t quite massive summit finish stages, but aren’t sprint stages by any stretch of the imagination and stage 4 is set to be one of those. What are your expectations for the race on stage 4 to Caltagirone?
Sam: I think stage 4 could be one of the hardest of the race, certainly of this first part anyway. For the general public it’s a far cry from the big summit finishes but the stages like stage 4 that are constantly up and down and small twisty roads can be the hardest days. It’s always important to be in a good position and stage 4 will be like that. I think there is no climb over 3km but nearly 4000m of climbing so it will be a serious stage even if it doesn’t look like that from the outside.