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Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Report - Stages 7 and 8
By Locutus
Date: 5/20/2007
Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Report - Stages 7 and 8
Golden Hams of Stages 7 and 8
  • Alessandro "Rocket Pants" Petacchi (Team Milram). The leader of the Lactose Lads has really found his form again. In stage 7 he won his second difficult sprint, giving him more stage wins than anyone in the race. He's ran off and hid in the race for the points jersey: after stage 8, he was still 34 points ahead of 2nd place Bettini. If he can keep up the consistent work and make it through the mountains, he'll take the points jersey with ease. But what he really wants is more stage wins.
  • Kurt Asle "Aslan" Arvesen (CSC). He hung with the big break of the day in stage 8, carrying the CSC banner and marking the right moves. In the finale, when it looked like World Champ Paolo "Teeny" Bettini (Quick Step) had it won, Arvesen found that bigger gear to roar past him at the line. This was Arvesen's second Giro stage win, and with his compatriot Thor "Thunder Thighs" Hushovd (Credit Agricole), he seems to be stamping a Norske impression on the world of professional cycling. With their successes, these two could be convincing more young people in the land of cross-country skiing to take up the sport. As it is, this is a golden age for cycling in the land of the Vikings.
  • Patxi "Vici" Vila (Lampre). The dangerous Spanish climber moved from 15th to 5th on GC by finishing with the big break on stage 8. He was only 12th on the stage, but the 4' 19" he picked up on the peloton now makes him a very dangerous threat for the Lampre assault on the Pink Jersey. Vila is only 1' 10" behind Pinotti, but he has 3' 02" on Di Luca (Liquigas), 4' 09" on Savoldelli (Astana), and 5' 02" on Simoni (Saunier Duval). That makes him a serious GC threat other teams will have to mark, leaving his team captain Damiano "The Omen" Cunego with more freedom to attack. Vila may ultimately fade as he works for his team captain, but his ride today has given Cunego and his Lampre squad the biggest tactical advantage so far in the race.
  • Dario "Choo-Choo" Cioni (Predictor-Lotto) . Cioni, a former mountain biker, finished the 2004 Giro in 4th place on GC. The last two years he has worked for other riders, but this year he will have a free hand to race for the podium. By finishing with the break and taking 18th on the stage, he overcame the time losses he incurred to most of his rivals in the opening team time trial. Cioni is now in 9th on GC at 2' 13" behind Pinotti. The rest of this Giro will suit Cioni, and the fact that he now has almost 2' on Di Luca and much more on most of the other GC rivals makes Cioni the biggest GC threat to emerge from today's shocking stage. If he climbs like he is capable of climbing for the rest of this race, he might just end up on the final podium.
  • Andrea "The Ghost" Noe' (Liquigas). Like Vila, Noe' is a strong climber and a good all-arounder who has finished high up in the Giro GC many times. The veteran is a little too long in the tooth to be a real threat to win this race, but he is clearly on good form and riding with the strongest team in the race. He finished with today's break in 15th, which moved him up into 2nd on GC at a mere 28" behind Pinotti. When the road seriously tilts up again in a couple of stages, Noe' could well find himself in the Pink Jersey. He'll be riding for Di Luca, but with his consistency and high position, he might even land himself in the top ten come Milano.
  • Emanuele "Seat of His Pants" Sella (Panaria). The crafty leader of the Panaria squad might have gotten himself in position to get a top ten finish on GC in this Giro. He put in a brilliant attack in the final kilometer to almost take the stage, fading to 9th with the surge from the others at the finish. He's now in 11th at 2' 27", with 2' over a lot of his big rivals. He will lose time in the big mountains to the big favorites, but if he can keep us his strong riding and limit his losses, he could end up ahead of the other men vying for those bottom spots in the top ten. He finished in 10th in the 2005 Giro, so don't be surprised if he goes that a few spots better this year.
  • Jose Luis "The Punisher" Rubiera (Discovery Channel). Chechu finished 13th on GC in last year's Giro while riding in support of Paolo Savoldelli. This year, with the shocking demise of their should-have-been Giro leader Ivan Basso, Discovery came to the race with Popovych and Chechu as their GC hopefuls. Chechu worked his butt off in that break to come across the line in 20th, which still got him 4' 19" on the peloton. Remember this: when Lance Armstrong used to want to shred the legs of his rivals in the mountains, he'd put Chechu on the front to do the job. Now Chechu might finally be getting his turn in the spotlight, and his fans could not be happier. He is 6th on GC only 1' 36" behind Pinotti. The minutes he has taken from the other climbers will be hard to take back.
  • Marco "Naughty" Pinotti (T-Mobile). With his team undermanned, it looked like the former Italian time trial champ was going to lose his Pink Jersey to Noe'. Pinotti took matters into his own hands, taking huge turns on the front to help his teammates close down as much of the gap to the breakaway as possible. He likely won't be in Pink much longer, but Pinotti certainly earned another day as leader with his gutsy riding today.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto). In stage 7, McEwen washed away to 14th in the sprint for the finish. Today the Aussie sprinter got dropped early on the stiff climbs, and he couldn't bridge back up given the difficulty of the first half of the stage. He limped across the line with a pack of a dozen riders 24' 22" behind the winner. He made the time cut, which means that he will live to fight another day. But McEwen clearly is not firing on all cylinders right now. Still, like all good sprinters, he could bounce back tomorrow and smoke everyone in the final 200 meters.
  • Saunier Duval. Ricco was originally in the big break, but he dropped back to the peloton. This left his team out in the cold. They had to come to the front in the final half of the stage and put in a huge effort to help limit their time losses to the break. Simoni and Ricco still lost over 4' to some of their rivals, and the lieutenants of some of their rivals. This puts them at a major disadvantage with the big mountains on the horizon. If Ricco would have stayed in the break, it would have been a much different race.
  • Milram, Cofidis, Credit Agricole, Gerolsteiner, and Bouygues Telecom. Along with Pinotti's T-Mobile squad and Saunier Duval, these were the teams that got nobody into that monster break. On such a big day with such a big break, you can bet these teams will be getting an earful from their team directors tonight.

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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