By Dede Barry
The Discovery Channel team had a special visit on the rest day, as Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel flew in for dinner at the team hotel.
The two unexpected visitors provided a little extra motivation and shared some laughs with team, especially when the usually shy and conservative looking Tony Cruz showed up to dinner with a Mohawk.
After the Giro’s first rest day, several other riders in the bunch had trimmed their manes to cool themselves in the mountain stages ahead.
Rain threatened much of stage 10, but very little actually fell on the peloton. Aside from the wild ride through the finishing circuits, the stage seemed fairly uneventful, although the Discovery team did have a bit of stress to deal with at the start, as the mechanics, driving the two follow cars could not find the start before the riders left and the team’s two directors, Sean Yates and Laurenzo Lapage were stranded.
They eventually squeezed their way into one of the commissaires’ cars to follow the race and the support vehicles finally made it into the caravan after about 15 kilometers. Fortunately for the team, there were no mechanical problems in those early kilometers. A few other team cars were also seen scrambling around trying to find the start and only rejoined the peloton once the race was already underway.
The sprinters seemed relaxed at the start village on Thursday before Stage 11, since with mountains ahead, there wasn’t much reason for any of them to be too worried about winning a stage, just making the time cut. With the grupetto arriving 32 minutes after Ivan Basso and Paolo Savoldelli finished, everyone made it in plenty of time. As it stands, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O’Grady and Baden Cooke have already made plans for an early race departure and we could start to see some other sprinters pulling out as the roads continue to tilt up.
The stage on Thursday really blew the bunch to pieces and, as you know, last year’s winner, Damiano Cunego took himself out of contention for the pink jersey as he labored up the climbs.
Bu the other big news, of course, was that Savoldelli showed great form and lived up to his nickname, the “Falcon,” dropping his companions as he soared down the Passo Duran. The whole dynamic of the race changed on Thursday and it should be an exciting nine days of racing ahead.
In an interview with Tony Cruz, after Thursday’s finish, I got some insight into how things are going within Discovery and what their expectations are for the rest of the Giro.
Dede Barry: Tony, the stage finishing in Zoldo Alto today looked brutal. What kind of gear options did you and your teammates ride with today?
Tony Cruz: We had 39×25 and 53×12. I found I was a little spun out on the downhills but was in the 25 often on the climbs.
DB: With Paolo’s stage win today, he edged a little closer to the race lead. What is the team plan going further into the coming mountains?
TC: We will be there to support him as long as possible in the mountains and I think that if we do get the jersey the team will be able to ride much better as we’ll have increased drive and motivation.
DB: How are you filling your time in the evenings?
I have been reading Anthony Kiedis’ biography and I just finished “TheKite Runner,” which I really enjoyed. I have been having dreams thatI am running through the streets of Hollywood shadowing Anthony Kiedis. Michael tells me the conversations, Anthony and I are having in my dreams are quite intriguing, as I am talking in my sleep.
DB: So, what inspired the Mohawk you acquired on the rest day?
TC: I needed a hair cut really bad and when I went to the local salon they were filled up for the day so I borrowed a pair of clippers from Geoff our mechanic and Michael had at it.
It was one of those things I always wanted to try when I was 16-years-old. I just never really thought I would be doing it when I was 33 on the rest day of the Giro d’Italia!. I still have yet to send a picture home to the family but I think my kids will love it.
DedeBarry is a former professional cyclist, a 2004 Olympic silver medalistand a contributor to “Insidethe Postal Bus,” a book by her husband, Discovery Channel rider MichaelBarry.