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92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 4: il Giro report card
By Staff
Date: 5/12/2009
92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 4: il Giro report card

92nd Giro d'Italia- Stage Four: il Giro report card.
The first summit finish of the Giro produces a minor GC shake up and thrusts yet another new face into the Maglia Rosa and subsequent spotlight.

By Tim Lee

Wow, a mountain top finish four days into a grand tour- this is going to be a special Giro! Although it was not a hardcore massacre of a stage it still served to dish up a tantalizing battle that would show us who would strike the first blows of this three week epic. Even if it was not a monster of a stage, only 15 riders finished in the same time as the winner thus strengths and weaknesses are becoming more apparent. Anyone who lost time today will hope for a change in fortunes because tomorrow's stage is shorter but sharper with yet another summit finish. Lets take a closer look at who's legs have embraced the gradients and who's are in for a long three weeks...

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

Danilo Di Luca on presentation day, does a TV interview.
Photo © 2009 Karen Lambrecht

A- Danilo “Killer” Di Luca (LPR) continued the fairytale ride that LPR are enjoying so far in this Giro. The boys in Silver (or grey depending on the angle of the sun) are without doubt the team of the race thus far, and that includes the opening TTT. Di Luca showed promising form in the Giro del Trentino just before this Giro but was perhaps overshadowed by the victory of comeback kid Basso. He is however a former winner of this race and is always dangerous in an uphill sprint like the one into San Martino di Castrozza today. After unleashing an initial burst to reel in Soler he then kicked again to win comfortably and land the first punch in what is sure to be a truly great fight over the next three weeks. LPR has given both Di Luca and Petacchi a chance to continue their careers after suffering temporary troughs for various reasons and they are paying that faith back now, with interest it would seem...

B- Thomas “Swedish shadow” Lövkvist (Columbia) is always in the mix of things but until this season has lacked that little bit extra needed to get to the top step of the podium. Last year he was 2nd in the Deustchland Tour, 3rd in Tirreno Adriatico, 5th in the Tour de Suisse, and led the young riders classification in the Tour de France for multiple stages. Earlier this year he won the Monte Paschi Eroica and now sits atop the Giro leader board resplendent in pink, after a solid ride to finish in the rather selective front group of 16. With his confidence on the rise and a very motivated team behind him this may just be the break out race he needs to establish himself as a serious contender in the coming years.

C- Jens “Nails” Voigt (Saxo Bank) really deserves more than a C for his brutal performance today but unfortunately the stage winner and Maglia Rosa take all the credit! He went up the road initially in a group of six almost within sight of the neutral zone and rode them all off his wheel before being caught at a heart breaking 2.5km to go. This was made more remarkable by the fact that he was actually dropped on the slopes of the Croce d'Aune before regaining contact with the leaders on the descent.

It was classic Voigt style too, front wheel swerving side to side, shoulders rocking and grimaced face. Possibly the only thing on earth harder than this man is rock but even then its a close call. Keep trying Jens, because even if you don't win, your fan base will keep rising exponentially.

Senior members of the peloton, Lance Armstrong and Gilberto Simoni
Photo © 2009 Karen Lambrecht

D- Lance “Papa” Armstrong (Astana) has said time and again that he is not here to compete for the overall, but that did not stop him utilizing both Janez Brajkovic and Daniel Navarro in the finale today. Even with the extra artillery he still got tailed off inside the last kilometer when the chase for Soler heated to boiling point. For a guy that used to make a mockery of his rivals in the opening mountain stage this has to be at least a little disappointing. However 15 seconds in the big scheme of things is pocket change and even notoriously inaccurate weathermen would forecast that Lance will get stronger as the race gets longer

E- Francisco Perez (Caisse D'Epargne) crashed out today and failed to finish. Details are hazy, a little like the true palmares of the Spanish climber who served an 18 month suspension following a positive test for EPO in the 2003 Tour of Romandie whilst riding for the smaller Portuguese team Milaneza Maia . He has done little since and is now on the sidelines again.

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 heir 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.

Alessandro celebrates his magliea rosa yesterday. Photo © Sidi Sport

Honourable mentions
Alessandro “Domestique super duper deluxe” Petacchi (LPR) showed today that he is not just a phenomenal sprinter but also did the Maglia Rosa and team mate Di Luca proud by unselfishly helping to set the pace at various points in the stage. After being the centre of attention for the past two days, the gentleman sprinter from La Spezia showed his loyalty and professionalism by putting himself at the service of his team. He was even seen at the front on the Croce d'Aune pulling turns in the name of domestique duties shortly before arriving in a more familiar environment, the grupetto.

Mauricio Soler arrives for the opening ceremonies in Venice.
Photo © 2009 Karen Lambrecht

Juan Mauricio “Solo flyer” Soler (Barloworld) put in a tester towards the top of the final climb today to blow on by Voigt and then went for real at about 2km to go. He initially dangled tediously close to the Liquigas-led front group before painstakingly opening up a palpable gap inside the last kilometer. The Colombian had the finish line in sight and could almost physically touch it with his lanky fingers as first an audacious silver bullet followed by a red and then green one with a perm came speeding past to cheekily relegate him to fourth. The field has officially been put on notice for when they enter the high mountains later in the Giro if Soler can show the form he has at the 07 Tour de France.

The dynamic duo consisting of Francesco's Bellotti (Barloworld) and De Bonis (Serramenti) were in the initial break of six but were the only two riders really capable of swapping turns with Jens Voigt for the duration of the stage. Bellotti attacked on the Croce d'Aune to drop the German machine which he may have later regretted at about 8 km to go when the Saxo Bank hard man left him in a bid for solo glory. De Bonis on the other hand was probably just happy to be racing again after the weird muted feud with his team boss last year left him on the sidelines for much of the season.

Il Giro burlone idiota
Guess what, 2 days in a row now! It cannot continue this way, surely not...

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