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.
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.