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92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 2: il Giro report card
 
By Staff
Date: 5/11/2009
92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 2: il Giro report card
 

92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage Two: il Giro report card.
The second stage of this year's Giro gave the guys with the fast twitch fibres their first opportunity to show us what they are working with. The result surprised some but really should not have...

By Tim Lee

Ok, so there are a couple of big time sprinters missing from this Giro for various reasons but a quick glance at the official start list still elicits several names of some seriously fast riders. However you could be forgiven for thinking there was only one sprinter in the race given the mass hysteria and distortion, compliments of the mainstream media. This notion was quashed today though, with the 'ex-fastest guy in the world' beating the supposed 'current fastest guy in the world'. With the exception of a climb best likened to a speed hump towards the end of the stage (OK, so it was tackled 3 times) it was pancake flat stage tailor made for the breathtaking sight of a huge bunch gallop. The home country may have got the win but it was a super day for the English speaking contingent who are starting to look quite the threat to the Euros. Lets see who scored well, who scored poorly and who didn't score at all.

Grading
A- Outstanding achievement worthy of all superlatives known to the human race
B- On the fringe of greatness but pipped at the post
C- Good performance but not enough to warrant the Moet et Chandon
D- Plenty of scope to improve but all is not lost, yet
E- Bottom of the barrel and in search of light in a very long tunnel


Ale-Jet continued his winning ways in the Giro, here he wins Giro Toscana.

A- Alessandro “I'm not dead yet” Petacchi (LPR) had to sit out the giro last year for for a highly contentious doping violation and it hurt him. The winner of 23 stages in previous editions of the Giro, Petacchi had a point to prove on two accounts; 1, that he could still be a contender in Grand Tour sprints and 2, to prove that Cavendish was beatable.

His sprint today was long, fast, very well timed and executed to perfection catch to a napping Cav off guard. Beating Cav is a rarity at present but beating him by the margin Alejet did today has been virtually unheard of. Hats off to Petacchi, who can these days be regarded as one of the elder statesmen of sprinting, for showing the world he still has the fire in his belly and speed in his legs to pull off beautiful stage victories. As always for home-grown teams, a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders by winning so early in the race too.

B- Ben “Quick and..” Swift (Katusha) is a 22 year old Brit that is another example of the burgeoning pool of talent coming off the Great British production line. Already a successful endurance rider on the track, Swift narrowly missed out on a medal at the U23 road race world champs last year. Relatively unknown at this level of the sport, Swift produced a phenomenal final burst to capture 3rd place today behind two off the biggest names in the sport and ahead of guys with much more experience. Look out for this aptly named guy, because he has a lot of speed in his legs and will only get faster in the coming years.

C- Mark “Pretty in pink” Cavendish (Columbia - Highroad) forgot to read the script. The one where he blasts to an easy stage win, resplendent in the Maglia Rosa and the Columbia PR man goes into overdrive. Turns out Cav is actually human and does sometimes lose which is quite reassuring to us folks that expect him to win at the drop of a hat. 2nd place in the opening road stage is nothing to sniff about, especially when you are in the race leaders jersey but even the Manxman himself admitted he got the sprint slightly wrong and was taken by surprise with Petacchi's long range acceleration. Given his amazing level of passion and pent up determination, I would go out and put the house mortgage, car, retirement pension and children's university funds all on a Cavendish win tomorrow...

D- Levi “Baldy” Leipheimer (Astana) and Ivan “Pretender” Basso (Liquigas) both came in 13 seconds adrift today. Not huge losses but none the less ones that should not have occurred. They got caught too far back in the bunch when a crash split the field with 7 km to go. Interestingly Pellizotti and Armstrong finished in the same time as the winner while their designated team captains were trying desperately to limit the damage behind. Anyway, it is not a catastrophe but a friendly reminder that being attentive is imperative in these early stages when the going gets a little crazy.

E- Robbie “Mad dog” Hunter (Barloworld) rolled over the line in a lowly 189th position today. The 07 tour stage winner is expected to shine in these sorts of stages but clearly he was not aware which end of the field he as meant to be at. The South African is all quality so here's hoping he is able to show us all tomorrow how much speed he has in those legs of his.

Special awards
Honourable mentions- Awarded to the riders that constitute the top of the milk when the cream has already been skimmed.

OIE: Obligatory Italian Escape - Giving patriotism a purpose for those homegrown riders doing their bit to get their face on the telly.
il Giro burlone idiota - otherwise known as the 'tool' award. This goes to the rider that either makes a decision or completes an act that any cognitively sound person would regard as wrong, dangerous, shameful or just plain stupid.

Honourable mentions
Philippe “Why me?” Gilbert (Silence – Lotto) must wonder why every time he gets in a break and has a sniff of victory he turns around to see Filippo Pozzato there on his wheel. These two have a bit of a delicate history and it is fair assume they do not have each other's numbers on speed dial. Today Gilbert had a dig with 7km to go in his trademark fashion. It was destined to fail under the impetus of the Columbia and LPR train forming behind but it is great to see attacking riders like Gilbert prepared to shake things up because otherwise these flat stages can be in danger of being a bit of a yawn. Other riders should take notice!

OIE
There is always one. The rider that has to be in the first break of the race. For Leonardo “Who needs breakaway companions” Scarselli (ISD) the trouble was that he was the break. He escaped early in he stage and spent 100 kms out the front on his own doing a very good impression of a carrot dangling in front of the field. With Cav in Pink there was no way known today was going to be anything but a mad dash to the line so when Columbia and LPR got on the front, Scarselli's time on the Telly was limited. Still, it is good to see a rider willing to take the chance and make the race just that bit more interesting. He obviously spent all his bikkies out on the road though, because after being caught he eventually finished over 10 minutes down on Petacchi.

Il Giro burlone idiota
This does not really have a deserving winner today but as we do not like to see awards go to waste, it will be given to the person responsible for telling Cavendish to wear those horrendous matching pink shorts to go with the Maglia Rosa. Obviously it has been done many times before but that does not mean it is in good taste. It isn't Cav's fault and thankfully the ensemble did not extend to the helmet, glasses and bike. No more fashion faux pars please!

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