The big screen in Krists Neilands’ home in Latvia is on constantly these days. And, of course, the images are of our ISN guys riding in the front of the Giro d’Italia.
“I watch it, of course. How can I not? There are my teammates, and I enjoy watching them do so well, but truthfully, at the same time, it pains me so much that I want to turn it off.”
Who can blame Krists for being so torn? After all, the Giro was taken away from him in the most bizarre and unlucky of circumstances. Instead of being part of ISN’s incredible journey, he is sitting at home recuperating from collarbone surgery.
Krists: “It was so shocking. I just finished the TT opening stage on a high note, took my backpack from the bus, and continued to the hotel. I almost reached it and just crossed the bike path when I fell. In retrospect, it was probably the heavy backpack that was the culprit. But as I hit the ground, I knew it wasn’t good. I didn’t have to wait to see the doctor, and I knew that my Giro was probably over right there.”
It was a real shame, and not a moment has passed since without the incident haunting him. “Look, you can get unlucky. You can crash and lose it any time. It’s part of the job description,” he says. “But it’s much more of a bitter pill to swallow when it happens away from the race. That’s the most challenging part.”
Another tricky part is the guilt of not being able to help his teammates. But their impressive performance in the Giro so far has softened that blow a bit. “I am so proud of them—the pink jersey with De Marchi and Dan Martin’s excellent finish shows how strong he is. So, of course, I am eating my heart out that I can’t help, but the guys are doing just fine without me, and I count on them to deliver victories.”
Meanwhile, he will face his challenges. “The surgery went very well,” he said. “I plan to try and take on the trainer for the first time tomorrow and, hopefully, in two weeks, to hit the road again.”
The goal? Well, that’s clear: the Tour de France, of course! “My mission is to be ready for the Tour. I have all the reasons to believe it will happen.”