Bike races are a circus-like spectacle best witnessed firsthand. This is especially apparent at a race the size, caliber and prestige of the Giro d'Italia.
Obviously the cyclists whizzing by at breathtaking speed and the unique dynamics of the races themselves are fascinating, but to experience the race caravan is like taking a stroll through the Vegas strip.
Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) surged out of the anonymity of the peloton Monday with a dramatic stage victory in a grueling, seven-hour march across the Apennines to re-energize his hopes of overall victory at the Giro d’Italia.
Denis Menchov (Rabobank) rode shrewdly to sprint to second, expanding his lead over second-place Danilo Di Luca (LPR), while Levi Leipheimer (Astana) saw his hopes of winning the Giro fade when he ceded 2:51 to drop from third to sixth, 3:21 back.
“I was not as strong as those guys, it is plain and simple,” Leipheimer said at the finish line.
In order to challenge Denis Menchov and Danilo Di Luca for victory in this centennial Giro, Levi Leipheimer, Franco Pellizotti, Carlos Sastre, Ivan Basso and Michael Rogers have to go on the attack in the final week. But where and when they attack is all important because in the first two weeks they have been unable to out-climb race leader Menchov or runner-up Di Luca.
So if the challengers can’t gain the time they need on this week’s three summit finishes, at Monte Petrano on Monday, Blockhaus on Wednesday and Mount Vesuvius on Friday, what can they do? The short answer is: Tactics.
It was two-for-one again in Sunday’s 15th stage, as the Giro d’Italia unfolded with two races within one that was almost as hot and blistering as the searing temperature on the tarmac.
Leonardo Bertagnolli (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) won the battle for the kisses from the podium girls, the sole survivor of a 16-man breakaway that went clear early in a tremendously hot, hilly 161km from Forli to Faenza.
Simon Gerrans won yesterday's stage 14 of the Giro! At our hotel last night, there were fireworks, there was dancing, the champagne was flowing, and music was blaring!
Of course I think this has less to do with Simon's win and more to do with the wedding reception at our hotel last night.
In fact, it's worth pointing out that the music made sleeping difficult between the hours of 11pm through 2am, and the cannon like fireworks seemed a bit excessive. But I'm sure that everyone at the wedding party had a great time and the Giro d'Italia was the last thing on their minds.
Sometimes you don’t have to win to make a strong impression.
That’s certainly the case for Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream), who proved that he’s reached a new level in the rough-and-tumble world of field sprints. With two seconds and one third, Farrar came close to the elusive breakthrough victory.
The team was more than satisfied with Farrar’s performances and he all but assured himself a ticket to the Tour de France in July as the team’s top sprinter.
Danilo Di Luca (LPR) missed a chance to jump back into the pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia in Saturday’s hilltop finish up the fiercely steep climb to the San Luca church that was tailor-made for his explosive style.
Instead of battling for a vital 20-second time bonus that might have come with a stage victory, LPR botched the chase in the 172km 14th stage and let most of a 14-man breakaway stay clear to gobble up the time bonuses.
Just moments after the dust settled from Thursday’s decisive time trial that saw him lose the maglia rosa, Danilo Di Luca said he wants it back as soon as possible.
The 2007 winner said aggressive tactics can still win the Giro, but just as quickly added that he didn’t expect to see that from Levi Leipheimer.
“I’ve never seen Leipheimer attack,” Di Luca said on RAI television. “He’s going to have to now if he wants to win this Giro.”
Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) carved another masterpiece Friday on the fast road to Florence, dashing to his third sprint victory in five stages before taking an early exit from the Giro d’Italia.
Within shot of the towering duomo, Cavendish made easy work of Italian star Alessandro Petacchi (LPR) to claim his 11th win on the season. [nid:92327]
In post-race comments, Cavendish hinted that he would leave the Giro. A press release from his team a few hours later confirmed his early departure.
I'm going to start by tooting my horn a bit here and saying that I'm a fairly handy time trialist.
Furthermore, I'm lucky enough to be riding the finest, fastest, and one of the most heavily sought after time trial machines on the market, the Cervélo P3. That might stir up a lot of questions to the tune of, "Hey when are you going to get the P4?!" Well that's for me to know and you to find out.