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By Lennard Zinn
Tuesday is a rest day at the Giro d’Italia, a time for riders to recuperateas well as jawbone with each other and the media. VeloNews’s Lennard Zinnis making the rounds and seeing what riders and teams have planned forthe final push to Milan, where the 86th edition of the Giro ends with anindividual time trial on Sunday.Simoni’s eating pizza, feeling good and thinking of France
To celebrate his good form and excellent positioning to take this Giroback home with him, Gilberto Simoni plans to go and eat a pizza.”I have a strong desire to change the menu today,” he says.Pizza is a variation from his standard pasta and meat dishes servedin courses at each dinner.”If it were up to me, I would continue to race. I feel so good thatI don’t even want to stop. But a day of rest will also do me good,” theman in pink said with a satisfied smile.Saeco technical director Beppe Martinelli, who also guided both MarcoPantani and Stefano Garzelli to their Giro wins, believes that the restday will be better for Simoni than for the others.”When I raced and with those I have seen race over all of these years,the rest day is especially good for those riders that are in great form.Those who are going well get better, and those who are so-so stay so-so.With Simoni I have no doubt that he will recuperate very well.”Simoni, meanwhile, said he would really like to see Lance Armstrongat the Giro. The 31-year-old Saeco team leader said the American U.S. Postalrider had still to face a real climbing challenger on the world’s toughestbike race.Simoni added that Armstrong, who in four years of dominating the Tourhas never doubled up by also riding the Giro or the Vuelta a España,should have come to the Giro this year. The two races are a month apartthis year.”Of course, I’ll be there,” Simoni said when asked if he would ridethis year’s centenary Tour and undertake his second major race in a row.”But I’ll only set out what I plan to do there after the Giro. I thinkthat on the Tour, Armstrong has never really been put to the test. Andhe should try and ride the Giro at least once.”With five days to go, Simoni is set to win his second pink jersey -and he is feeling confident.”Until now it’s me who has done all the attacking. Now I’m going tosit back and let the other riders take the initiative,” he added. “ButI’ve never underestimated anyone. I’ve never done so and I won’t startnow.”
Who is the most courageous rider in the Giro?
Yesterday, Alessandro Petacchi showed incredible guts and determination(some might also call it a lack of common sense) in winning the stage afterhis hard crash the day before. At the finish, he could not raise his armsin victory due to the pain in his arm and back. As a way to motivate himto start yesterday morning, his team manager, Giancarlo Ferretti, remindedhim about Fiorenzo Magni’s courageous ride in 1956.The “Third Man” in the era of Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali finishedin second place behind Luxembourg’s Charly Gaul with a broken clavicle.He had a special rigid plaster bandage that he had custom-cut to sit onhis bike. He also could not steer the bike very well with his right hand,and he was in great pain. The solution rigged up by his mechanic, FalieroMasi (who of course went on to found the famous bicycle company bearinghis name), was a piece of inner tube tied to the right side of his handlebar.Magni clamped the other end in his teeth to help turn the handlebars aswell as to battle the pain. Thing is, he still had 1,800 kilometers togo when he broke it! He suffered mightily in Monte Bondone, where Gaulwon the race, on a day that has been compared to the brutal snowy day in1988 on the Gavia Pass where Andy Hampsten effectively won the Giro.Another example, of course, is Tyler Hamilton, who last year rode tosecond overall. He had broken his shoulder 16 days earlier and also sufferedmightily for the majority of the race.Other Petacchi snippets
The first three times Petacchi won here, his teammate Aitor Gonzalezcrashed during the stage. And on the day that Gonzalez won the stage, Petacrashed! MMMmmmm… do we sense a pattern here?Petacchi has the chance, in the flat stages on Wednesday and on stage20, to equal Giuseppe Saronni’s modern record of seven Giro stage winsset in 1980. He could also eclipse Mario Cipollini’s six stage wins of2002.Ferretti said of Petacchi, “I knew a miracle had happened when Petaasked for a big ham sandwich 30km into the race, since he had not had hisusual breakfast!”Petacchi agreed and added, “I decided I would do the sprint 50km intothe race. We bike racers are like cats, you know. We have nine lives.”So what happens now?
With former GC contenders like Pantani, Francesco Casagrande, DarioFrigo and Aitor Gonzalez having lost their way to the podium and now thinkingprimarily about stage wins, Simoni can concentrate entirely on Garzelli.They are calling him the “Spider Man,” here, since he has trapped all ofthe big bugs in his web, one after another, and Garzelli is the only onewith any room to move any more.Simoni could leave space for someone else seeking glory where he otherwisewould have gone for the stage win, especially if they are friends who havedone him favors. The race will become much more tactical than it has beenup to now, and you can be sure that promises are being exchanged in thehotels on this rest day.Pantani isn’t giving up on the Tour
That’s right, I said Pantani… Is this guy dreaming or what?Marco Pantani is still talking to anyone who will listen that he wantsto do the Tour this year.”We are trying to figure out how to accomplish it,” says the ex-Pirate.”The years are going by, and I really want to measure myself against Armstrong.In a month and a half, I will be really competitive. I will do everythingpossible to do that race.”One path he is working on involves a discussion between his patron,Romano Cenni, and he bosses of Bianchi, Felice Gimondi and Salvatore Grimaldi.The idea is to unite the Bianchi and Mercatone Uno teams into a singleentity, even while the details of the conversion of the COAST team to Bianchiare still not finalized.This would put both Jan Ullrich and Pantani, the last men to win theTour before Armstrong, on the same team.”In the meantime,” says the former “Elefantino” who no longer has earsthat stick out (they were surgically corrected this
year), “I am still too heavy. I need to lose some weight. I feel goodat the end of the stages, but I just can’t quite stay with the best climbers.”Another Tour hopeful, Mario Cipollini, who sent a letter to race directorJean-Marie Leblanc saying he would do his utmost to finish this time, expectshis Domina Vacanze-Elitron team to hear back about their status by tomorrowor at the latest by Thursday.David and Goliath
The biggest and smallest riders in the Giro, namely Magnus Backstedt(Fakta-Pata) and Moreno DiBiase (Formaggi Pinzolo), are battling it outfor the azure jersey of the Intergiro leader.If it comes down to an arm wrestle, we’re going with the big Swede.Insult to injury
With the television camera right behind him when it happened, TV viewersall over the world saw Fakta’s Werner Riebenbauer crash and slide intoa water-filled ditch alongside the road the road on Sunday.We watched as he came out covered with mud, and, with the help of somedrafting behind his team car and a team mechanic who held his bike fromthe car window while he cleaned grass and mud out of the brakes, he re-caughtthe pack. He ended up 22nd in the sprint.One thing TV viewers did not see, however, was the officials’ decisionto fine the Austrian 50 Swiss Francs for “irregular mechanical assistance”by the race jury.