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Giro d'Italia: The Prosciutto Report - Final Week
By Locutus
Date: 6/1/2007
Giro d'Italia: The Prosciutto Report - Final Week
Golden Hams
  • Gilberto "G-Man" Simoni and Leonardo "Piccolo" Piepoli (Saunier Duval). On the climb up the dreaded Monte Zoncolan in Stage 17, Simoni and Piepoli opened up their pint sized Italian can of climbing whupass. Simoni's big acceleration buried Mazzoleni and put Di Luca, Schleck, and Cunego on the ropes. When Schleck was able to fight back to Simoni's wheel, Piepoli was with him. Piepoli quickly went to the front and in the final kilometer, he blew Schleck off of his wheel as he led Simoni to his first stage win of the Giro. While Simoni is probably too far back of Di Luca to win this Giro, his position in 3rd on GC at 2' 28" will likely be good enough to earn him yet another podium finish in Milano. He is only 4" behind Schleck, and he holds a 1' 01" lead over Cunego as well as a 1' 18" over Mazzoleni. Simoni isn't exactly Miguel Indurain when it comes to time trials, but he has enough power to hold his own when he has to.
  • Iban "Miracle Whip" Mayo (Saunier Duval). The up-and-down Basque hero is finally up again. In the mountains, he did important work to set the pace and launch attacks for the likes of Simoni and Piepoli. Then today, he showed some of his old attacking form and flew through the climbs on his way to a brilliant stage victory. This makes four wins for four different Saunier Duval riders: they truly are the terrors of the mountains. We'll have to see if they can bring some of their climbing legs with them to the Tour as well.
  • Alessandro "Rocket Pants" Petacchi (Team Milram). In the stage 18 finale, the Italian flatlander stud stomped on his pedals and shouted "respect my authoritay!!" He has shown impressive legs through the mountains--for a sprinter, at least--and kept himself in the running for the points competition. As he approached the line in Stage 18, he launched his sprint from an insanely long way out and still held off all of his rivals. By taking his fourth stage victory and staying in the race, Petacchi will take his 38 point lead and his Ciclamino Jersey into the final two stages confident that he will be the points winner in Milano once again.
  • Danilo "Nuke" Di Luca (Liquigas). The attack of Simoni had him in trouble relatively early on Monte Zoncolan during Stage 17. However, Di Luca had some gravel in his gut and a glint in his eye, and he fought back hard. He kept the gap close, and finished only 31" down on Simoni. He now holds a commanding 2' 24" lead over the rest of the field into the final time trial. He has shown time and again in this Giro that he is a true champion, and he will fight hard again tomorrow and be the man in Pink when he rides into Milano.
  • Frank "Kid Flash" Schleck (CSC). Oy, this kid has surprised everyone in this Giro. On Monte Zoncolan, he left Di Luca and Cunego in his wake on his way to 3rd on the stage at only 7" behind Simoni. He enters the final time trial in a strong 2nd on GC: he only has 4" on Simoni, but the way he's been riding he looks to be a lock for the final podium. Not bad for a guy who was just shooting for the top fifteen.
  • Damiano Cunego (Lampre). The former Giro winner hasn't ridden badly. He's been in the mix whenever the whip has come down in this race, but he hasn't been able to come out on top. He was 4th in stage 17, and now sits in 4th on GC at 3' 29". The word is that he has been working on his time trialing in the off season. We'll find out tomorrow how much this work has paid off. Regardless of what happens, Cunego is still a force in the peloton, and he'll be on the podium a few more times at least before he calls it a career.
  • Eddy Mazzoleni (Astana). The tough veteran had a difficult day on Monte Zoncolan during stage 17. He came across the line in 13th at 2' 26", and he slipped from 2nd to 5th on GC at 3' 46". However, Mazzoleni is still within reach of the podium, and he is the best time trialist of all the riders in the top five. Tomorrow's stage will be wide open, and Mazzoleni could still sneak in with the biggest surprise of the Giro.
  • Dave Zabriskie (CSC). This hasn't been Zabriskie's best race, as he sits in 67th on GC at 1h 50' 50" behind the leader. Still, Dave Z delivered an outstanding time trial in stage 13 when he finished only 19" behind the winner despite the fact that the course favored climbers. The course for stage 20 will not favor climbers.: it is 43km long and only has a couple of minor uphill sections. Most of the course is relatively flat and will favor the power burners like Zabriskie. Italian time trial champ Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) and former Giro winner Paolo Savoldelli (Astana) will be the other major threats for the win, but I'm betting that Zabriskie has been laying low and just saving his energy for tomorrow.

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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