Race vehicles are critical for team success at a grand tour.
Astana, for example, has in its stable 15 cars, two fully-rigged race-service trucks, one big bus, one medium bus, one small bus, one camionette, and one camper. Not all of them are used in a single race, but the garage the team uses is huge, in order to accommodate the entire fleet.
While the Tour de France is formulaic in its structure, the Giro is a mishmash of stages.
Four days into the race and there have been three different leaders, challenging finishes and varied terrain. The Tour doesn’t reach the mountains until the end of the first week whereas here, in Italy, we rode into the sharp white-faced Dolomites today. And from here on, the race will not relent.
VeloNews Photo Director Don Karle, in Italy for the Giro d'Italia, decided Tuesday to go on a ride to get a feel for "what the riders were up against and what it was like for the spectators on a mountain-top finish."
So Karle hooked up with top Italian racer Amy Rasic for some guidance, and the pair ended up doing what Karle called "a sweet ride, probably the coolest in my life so far."
Tuesday’s first mountain stage provided an interesting antipasti of who’s going to be the main attraction in this centenary Giro d’Italia.
Danilo Di Luca (LPR), the 2007 Giro champion, sprinted to victory ahead of 2000 Giro winner Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) out of an elite group of about 40 riders to remind everyone that he’s still a force to reckon with.
Rarely has a modern grand tour entered the mountains as early as does this year’s Giro. After a brief team time trial and two flattish stages disrupted by crashes (because of the maximum-size field of 198 riders racing on narrow, technical finishing circuits), the three-week race heads for the Dolomites on Tuesday.
Framebuilder Ugo De Rosa can look back on a glorious past, having built steel bicycles for a long line of champions, among them Eddy Merckx and Francesco Moser. But the De Rosa family continues to press forward, producing frames in a variety of materials to meet the demands of a rapidly changing market.
The rise of carbon fiber “changed the Italian bicycle industry,” said Doriano De Rosa, one of Ugo’s sons.
Christian Vande Velde came into his own last season with a run of stunning successes: A strong showing at the Tour of California, the pink jersey at the Giro, a stellar fourth place in the Tour de France, and to cap the season, the Tour of Missouri overall win.
This year Vande Velde scored a stage win at Paris-Nice, and looks set for another top season that he hopes is set back only slightly by his injuries in Monday's stage 3 crash at the Giro.
It was a bittersweet day for Garmin-Slipstream in Monday’s third stage at the Giro d’Italia.
Tyler Farrar bolted to second place in the stage, climbed into second place overall at eight seconds back of race leader Alessandro Petacchi (LPR) as well as second in the points jersey and earned some prime podium time with the best young rider’s jersey.
That was the good news.
Team captain Christian Vande Velde crashed out of the Giro in a spill with about 50km to go and suffered serious injuries that will complicate his preparations for the Tour de France.
There’s never a dull moment at the Giro d’Italia.
Just when it seemed like things were bordering on routine, all hell broke loose and the final 50km of the 198km march from Grado to Valdobbiadene turned into a crash derby.
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) was the primary victim, crashing out with a broken rib with about 50km to go before another spill with about 12km to go completely blocked the entire breadth of the road just as the peloton ramped up for the sprint.