Alessandro Petacchi (LPR) has won 164 races during his long career, but his relegation of British sprint ace Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) to second on Sunday was one of his sweetest victories.
Only the 2005 Milan-San Remo and his first career Giro stage win in 2003 — versus Mario Cipollini — mean more to the 35-year-old, who was back in the Giro d’Italia winner’s circle Sunday for the first time since serving his controversial racing ban last year.
In first kilometer of the 20-kilometer team time trial we found what we needed to win: speed and fluidity.
Riding together prior to today’s opening team time trial we knew what we were capable of doing as a team but we also knew that if the race wasn’t ridden prudently the team would come undone within meters. A corner taken poorly, acceleration at the wrong moment, or heroic selfishness would break the rhythm. The machine we were creating needed to have the pace of a metronome.
There were no pink jerseys for Lance Armstrong, but the seven-time Tour de France champion was content with Astana’s steady third-place performance in Saturday’s team time trial to open the 2009 Giro d’Itali.
The 37-year-old Giro rookie led the squad across the line as Astana stopped the clock in 22 minutes, 3 seconds on the 20.5km course on Lido di Venezia. That was good enough for third behind Columbia-Highroad and Garmin-Slipstream.
Mark Cavendish was cool as a cat as he watched team after team fall short of besting Columbia-Highroad on the flat 20.5km course in Lido di Venezia.
The Cannonball had plenty of time to consider he was about to become the first British rider to wear the maglia rosa.
Columbia started first among 22 teams and he had to wait nearly two hours to secure the victory until Giro rookie Lance Armstrong led final-team Astana across the line 13 seconds short.
With Mark Cavendish primed for the sprints, and Michael Rogers and Thomas Lövkvist riding with no pressure for the GC, Columbia-Highroad has its bases covered on the eve of the Giro d’Italia.
The squad brings a balanced team with a heavy emphasis on stage victories and breakaways with no pressure but quiet ambition to perform well in the GC.
Saxo Bank strongman Fabian “Spartacus” Cancellara wants an even faster bike on which to trounce into submission those mere mortals who do their best simply to survive a race against the clock.
Cancellara may now have the ideal weapon in the Specialized S-Works TTR, a sleek rig you will see raced for the first time in Saturday’s stage 1 team time trial at the Giro d’Italia.
Most distinctive is the TTR’s stem/nose cone, which extends straight forward from the top of the top tube, covers the head tube and front brake and is integrated with the aero bar.
In a crowded boat full of tourists, nine of us, dressed in our bright yellow team kits sat together as a calm wind blew our hair. The sun was low in the sky and the Adriatic a murky turquoise. School kids touring Venice with their class pushed, laughed and sang songs to beats tapped out on the boat rails while we spoke about the race course, our effort in training, the fluidity needed to win the team time trial, and the coming three weeks of racing.
The most recent in a series of customized Trek bikes for Lance Armstrong will debut this weekend at the Giro d’Italia. Part of an “artist bike” series, production of which was coordinated by Jamie O’Shea of Supertouch (an art and culture blog), the latest bikes are especially eye-catching.