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Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Report - Stage 1
By Locutus
Date: 5/12/2007
Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Report - Stage 1
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Liquigas. This was a brilliant ride for the boys in the lime lycra kits with the day-glow codpieces: they took time out of all of their rivals, claimed the first Pink Jersey, and announced that they are strong enough to help their leader Danilo "Nuke" Di Luca to win it all. Di Luca appeared unhappy that his teammate Enrico "Fermi" Gasparotto rolled across the line in first position, but the young Gasparotto's claiming of the first Pink Jersey will allow Di Luca to relax and bide his time until the first showdown on stage four. Liquigas will not defend this jersey now: they want to save their energy to defend it in the final week. But the morale boost will have the Liquigassers floating on, um, gas I suppose after delivering the first big blow of the Giro.
  • Astana. Two-time Giro champ Paolo "Salvo" Savoldelli and climbing monster Eddy "Mad Dog" Mazzoleni had a brilliant start to their Giro campaign. With their cadre of Kazakhstani supermen, the two Italian stars came in 2nd at only 13" behind Liquigas. Many people think that Savoldelli and Mazzoleni have their best days behind them, but with such a spirited start, you have to wonder. If they can hang with the leaders through the biggest climbs—big IF—then Savoldelli could be poised to steal the overall victory in the final time trial.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Team CSC. Okay, their ride wasn't that bad: they were 3rd on the day at only 30" behind Liquigas. However, CSC had the men who came in first and second in last year's World Championships in the time trial: reigning World Time Trial Champion Fabian "The Nullifier" Cancellara and reigning United States Time Trial Champion Dave "Friskie" Zabriskie. The course was mean and undulating, with more than a few stiff little climbs, and both Cancellara and Zabriskie are more power-burners who excel on flatter courses. Still, the overall power of the CSC squad made them the favorites headed in, and they will be upset with themselves over this result tonight. What's worse is that their sprinter, J. J. Haedo, couldn't keep pace and finished in 172nd at 4' 07" back. That means no first-week Pink Jersey for the man who could very well win a stage or two this week.
  • Saunier Duval-Prodir. The team of perennial Giro favorite Gilberto Simoni and super-climbers Iban Mayo, Leonardo Piepoli, and Riccardo Ricco lost 1' 25" to Di Luca, 1' 12'' to Savoldelli, and 43" to Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital). However, Simoni and his team are smart: their immense depth of climbing talent will make them the most dangerous team in mountains. With several uphill finishes and an uphill time trial to come, Simoni and his mates will take major chunks of time from most of their rivals. Today was just about limiting their losses and staying in the ballpark, and in that regard they were quite successful.
  • Predictor-Lotto. GC hopefuls Dario "Choo-Choo" Cioni and Wim "Puff 'n'" Vanhuffel gave up a big 1' 28" to their rivals today. Sprinter "Rabid" Robbie McEwen led them home, but he too is so far away from the Pink Jersey that it will elude him yet again. Still, most of the other sprinters are in McEwen's rearview mirror, and he looks to be fit and ready to deliver some stage wins. With the GC guys in a hole, look for the whole team to just focus on stage glory until the deep mountains start. Which is probably what they were planning on doing anyways.
  • The French Teams. Credit Agricole was a respectable 8th on the stage at 1' 13" back. Cofidis was so-so at 15th, 1' 38" back. Then at the back of the pack were the rest of the French teams: Bouygues Telecom in 19th at 2' 07", AG2r Prevoyance in 20th at 2' 17", and Francaise des Jeux in 22nd (a.k.a. dead last) at 2' 50". Credit Agricole will be working for the big Norwegian Thor Hushovd in the sprints, and should get some good results before it's all over. Look for the rest of these teams to take advantage of their low GC positions to start launching wave after wave of long breakaway attacks over the next several days. With the superstud Alsatian and former Tour Yellow Jersey wearer Tommy Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) leading the charge, don't be surprised if these teams pull off a stage win and take over a jersey or two through their usual aggressive, all-or-nothing style. If nothing else, they will make up for today's poor performance by keeping the next few stages interesting.
Grazed Hams of the Day
  • Yaroslav "Jiffy Pop" Popovych (Discovery Channel). In the final section of the course, Popo came to grief on a slow right-hander. It was a strange crash, as they were on a descent and seemed to be going at an appropriately cautious speed. Popo's back wheel just seemed to slip out from under him and he hit the floor. It didn't appear to be a serious crash, just an annoyance that will leave him with a bit of road rash and some bruises. The Disco boys were down to the minimum five riders, and Popovych is their team leader, so after the crash the rest of the guys sat up and coasted to the finish. They were having a great run, and looked like they might have been in the top two. Instead, rotten luck robbed them of about 30-45 seconds, and they finished fifth at 49" back. Popovych has always struggled to keep up in the highest Italian mountains, so he needs all of the time he can get on the little climbers. This was one missed opportunity, but he'll have a few more before the race is over.

Locutus, a.k.a. Patrick Sharp, is the author of the new book Savage Perils from the University of Oklahoma Press.
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