The Number Two


19 May 2014

Yesterday the 9th stage in the Giro d’Italia finished uphill.
There was a breakaway with 14 riders after 50 kilometres
and  because none of these riders formed a threat for the
GC riders,  they were able to gain a lot of time on the peloton.
Eventually it turned out to be enough and David Tanner (BEL)
tried to get away from the head bunch on the penultimate climb.
Just before the final climb of the day, Pieter Weening (OGE) attacked.
He became the new leader and got the company of Davide Malacarne (EUC).
Domenico Pozzovivo (ALM) tried to chase them down, but it was too late.
In the sprint, Weening turned out to be the better man of the two leaders.
He won the ninth stage that finished on the Passo del Lupo in Sestola.
To be honest, this Giro could not go any better for the Orica GreenEDGE team
with 7 days in the pink jersey and three stage victories, including the TTT.
Some of their riders fell hard or had to face illness and needed to abandon.
But overall, the guys told the press that they were a very lucky team this week.
When some are successful and lucky enough to win, there is also the other side.
I’m talking about the most unfavorable spot in sports: being the number two.
During the winner’s interview after the stage, Weening noticed Malacarne.
He stopped talking and addressed the number two of the stage:
“Sorry mate, sorry, you did a good job man,” he said to the Italian.
Davide Malacarne heard his words and said: “It’s a race, he?”
“Yeah, it’s a race,” the Dutchman then responded.
This kind and considerate remark of Weening marks the difference
between winning and losing: there’s just a thin line between it.
It could have easily been the other way around.
But yesterday the Dutch guy from Harkema won the stage.
Davide Malacarne probably woke up this morning and thought “damn!”.
He was so close to the victory, but yet so far away from the podium celebrations.
For Weening it was his second Giro victory, and his third win in a Grand Tour.
In 2005, he won a stage in the Tour de France by beating Andreas Klöden.
This was also a sprint, but the difference on the finish line was even smaller.
Weening beat the former German rider in Gerardmer by only a few millimetres.
“You always ride for the first place,” Weening said in an interview with the NOS.
He is right: no one rides for the second place. Malacarne didn’t ride for it either.
Still, like so many other riders, he has to live with being “the number two”.

Giro d'Italia - Stage 9 Malacarne (EUC) follows Weening (OGE) uphill / © Graham Watson

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