After completing his second grand tour, Feilding's Jesse Sergent is likely to ride the Tour de France next year, according to his coach Mike McRedmond.
Sergent gutsed it out through tough conditions, including a blizzard on stage 20, to finish the Giro d'Italia on Sunday night, the second year he's ridden the Italian tour.
Riding for his RadioShack Leopard team, the Tour de France isn't on his race programme this year and he now has a break to recover, but McRedmond believes Sergent will be there next year.
"He's still young; it's a very tough environment," McRedmond said. "In my opinion I think he'll ride the Tour de France next year. After two tours of Italy, he could be seen as someone ready to take that next step up to the big one."
Sergent, 24, conquered some of the toughest mountains in Europe and rode in awful conditions, finishing in 153rd place, 3 hours 47 minutes 32 seconds behind the winner.
Snow cancelled stage 19 of the tour and stage 20 was supposed to include a few more climbs but was altered because of rain, snow and fog.
The final climb of the race saw huge banks of snow on each side of the road and they had to ride through a blizzard. But Sergentcame through to finish in 102nd place in stage 20 in northern Italy.
"Personally I think the tour of Italy is tougher than the Tour de France," McRedmond said. "This year more so, with the horrendous weather conditions.
"This year the field is what you'd classify as a fairly deep field. In previous years, a lot of guys who are going to ride the Tour de France haven't looked to ride the tour of Italy. They've actually done that this year."
Sergent was there to support Radioshack's leading rider Robert Kiserlovksi, who finished 15th overall.
"One thing people don't appreciate is Jesse's job isn't actually to finish high," McRedmond said. "He's not a general classification rider, he's a workhorse for the team."
Sergent was one of 168 cyclists to complete the three-week tour and crossed the finish line with his team mate and fellow Kiwi George Bennett, 2min 20sec off the pace in the final 197km stage in Brescia on Sunday.
Hayden Roulston, the other New Zealander in Team RadioShack, was among 39 riders who failed to complete the tour, pulling out with respiratory problems before the 17th stage.
Bennett finished 32rd in the young rider classification and was 122nd overall.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali won the title, having led for a large part of the tour, ahead of Colombian Rigoberto Uran and Australia's Cadel Evans.
- Manawatu Standard
Will Shane Cameron beat Kali Meehan on Saturday?