Below are comments from some of the main characters in Friday's Giro d'Italia hilly stage.
First of all, Gabriele Bosisio, today's surprise stage winner. The young gun from the outskirts of Milan - but resident of a small town near Como in the north of Lombardy - dismissed rumours (if there was any) that he may have upset Di Luca by going for some personal glory instead of helping il capitano: "According to our stage plans I should make it into the breakaway of the day and that is what I did. In case Di Luca was going to attack in the last climb, I would have stopped and waited for him, but as Danilo was too distant (from the front group) we decided that I could try and win the stage. I won, and Danilo had a good result anyway, for he dropped some of his rivals. It couldn't have been any better".
The other side of today's stage was Emanuele Sella, literally in despair after the victory hopes he harboured throughout the day evaporated because he had a flat at the wrong time, only seven kilometres from the finish. He just couldn't hide his disappointment - to say the least - in front of the Italian TV cameras, and when he stopped repeating "nothing goes right, nothing goes right" he explained that "I have never been able to win again at the Giro since my first time back in 2004, I even thought I was never going to win again, but today it was looking like I could make it at last. After staying clear for 180 kilometres I was beginning to hope for victory, I knew that my legs were good, and I was confident that I could be a match to Bosisio. Instead, the unexpected happened". The green jersey he held on to, even taking his advantage up to impressive heights, meant a very small amount of solace, as it was overwhelmed by frustration, but nevertheless he promised that he'll do everything he can to maintain the KOM leadership until the Milan podium; and once his understandable disappointment abated, Sella and Bosisio even traded compliments: "I know him, I know how strong he is, and I know that he's definitely going to have other chances in this race", the stage winner said of his colleague. "He (Bosisio) got a well-deserved stage victory today" was Sella's response.
Team LPR's Danilo Di Luca failed to deliver in front of his home tifosi, but wasn't sounding too embittered after the stage: "Piepoli and Ricc˛ are very strong. Regardless of what someone was saying, Contador is not here on holiday, but I didn't understand his tactics. He never helped us, perhaps because he was waiting for Kloeden, or maybe he was just a little exhausted, I don't know. I attacked 2.5 kilometres from the top of the (penultimate) hill and closed down on Piepoli, who forced the pace again, bringing also Ricc˛ and Alberto with him. It was too late for me to win the stage, but we had "Boss" (Bosisio) in front ... and he really was the boss today; plus some of my rivals got dropped and lost important seconds, so I'm just happy with the way things were".
The solid performance by Alberto Contador, as well as the Spaniard's attitude, had some impact on the Saunier Duval duo Piepoli-Ricc˛, or at least that's what one may gather from their after stage comments. Leonardo Piepoli joked about it "I know him, and I have never believed that he came to the Giro just to train. I think he will be a protagonist in this race. If being on holiday by the sea before a Grand Tour makes one so strong, I think I'll go on holiday myself right before the Vuelta ...". The Flying Trullo added - about today's stage - that "we planned to give it a try, and we did. We couldn't open much of a gap, but managed to take a few precious seconds out of some dangerous rivals. Hope this will prove useful GC-wise".
Comments from Riccardo Riccˇ were less funny, but more harsh on Contador: "Things didn't go as we hoped for, but we can be satisfied, also because now we know the Giro's hierarchy better. We know that Contador, who has been telling us all the time that he wasn't in good shape, has been telling us lies all the time. He must have been on holiday by the sea, yes ... by the Madrid sea, preparing for this race. Someone really on holiday until ten days from the start cannot go so fast like he did today. I'm sorry that he didn't cooperate with us. At some point Piepoli and I got upset at him, because we wanted him to help, but he was unmoved, and refused. We didn't appreciate that. Well, besides that there was a nice duel between me and Di Luca. This stage bolstered my confidence however, also because unlike other riders I can rely on a team mate like Piepoli, that proved decisive also today. To have him on my side in the next mountain stages will be crucial".
And what did Se˝or Contador say in his defence? "I almost reached my limits today. Riccˇ, Di Luca and Piepoli were going very fast, but the truth is that I didn't think I could reach such level". In his defence, we might also add that, with hierarchy inside Astana arguably not established yet, a more cooperative attitude towards two GC rivals of the TdF winner himself, but also of teammates and fellow overall contenders Kloeden and Leipheimer, could have been potentially self-damaging.
Giovanni Visconti maintained the jersey despite the tricky uphill finish. He must say a big "thank you" to out-of-ordinary domestique Paolo Bettini for that. It doesn't happen every day to have a two-time World Champion riding hard to pace you back into the field, and the young gun from Palermo sounded well aware of that: "Well, it's not the first time that he helps me. People may think that a World Champion would never do that, but Paolo is a true gentleman and he helped me, just like the whole team did. That was impressive. So in the end I could close the gap (when I get dropped) and even put some time into the second-placed rider overall. I hope this may prove to be an important thing".