ham-gaze verb: 1) in cycling, the practice of watching other riders make the race; to sit on while other riders take off down the road. 2) the act of staying in the peloton and watching the "hams" of other riders in front of you. 3) the visual aspect of going off the back when other riders increase the tempo. noun: ham-gazer. synonyms: ass-watch, rear-view. antonyms: attack, hammer.
Ham-Gazers of the Day:
- Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze-Elitron). SuperFabio once again was thwarted by climbs near the end of a stage, finishing in 100th @ 1' 10". While he looks fabulous in his World Champion's jersey, he hasn't shown the form yet to indicate that he'll beat Binda's record for Giro stage wins. Hopefully he'll find his legs soon and put on the type of sprinting clinics we've grown accustomed to over the last few years. If he doesn't, my fantasy cycling teams are screwed. Avanti, Mario, avanti!!
- Jan Svorada (Lampre), Angelo Furlan (Alessio), and Graeme Brown (Ceramiche Panerio-Fiordo). The fate of these three sprinters was even worse than Cipollini, as they showed how hard the Giro can be on those who don't like bumps in the road. Svorada is still recovering from a crash, and finished in 115th at 6' 53" back. Furlan was 116th at 6' 53", and Brown was 141st at 11' 29". While they might have a shot over the next couple of days, the climbs in the middle of the stages could be their undoing. Like Cipo, they'll be looking forward to Stages 8 and 9, where long, flat roads will greet them.
Golden Hams of the Day:
- Carlos Garcia Quesada (Kelme-Costa Blanca). Many have been critical of the Kermit-Men for bringing a relatively young and inexperienced team to the Giro. Of course, the same criticism has been made of Kelme for years, and young riders continually emerge from that squad to light up the mountains. Today it was Garcia, whose attack up the Cresta di Zungri won him the maximum amount of King of the Mountains points and established the six-man break that was only reabsorbed a few kilometers from the finish. He was the prime attacker on a day that saw several attacks, and he kept today's race from being a snoozefest before the final sprint. Hopefully, the lime green Kermit-Men will continue their aggressive riding and continue their fine tradition of making the major stage races more exciting.
- "Rabid" Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo). Sweet revenge today for the Aussie. Alessandro Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo squad led the charge to bring back the breakaways and push the pace into the final sprint. McEwen held on to Petacchi's wheel until the last moment, coming around on the left in the last few meters to nip the Italian on the line. After his disqualification on Stage 2, McEwen will relish this win. This is a great turnaround for McEwen, who had some serious struggles with injuries early in the season and whose form was a question mark coming into this race.
- Bernhard Eisel (FDJeux.com) and Giovanni Lombardi (Domina Vacanze-Elitron). Eisel continued an outstanding season with a 3rd place today, mixing it with the big boys in the sprint to the line. The Austrian won stage 2 of GP Erik Breukink and stage 5 of Liguria, and finished 12th in Milan-San Remo, 14th in the Ronde von Vlanderen, and 22nd in Paris-Roubaix. He's a name people should remember, as his talent has really come to the fore in 2003. Lombardi had a great finish to land in 4th today while team leader Cipollini lagged off the back. If Cipo continues to struggle, Lombardi will keep getting chances to show that he's a great sprinter in his own right.
- Marco "Papa Smurf" Pantani (Mercatone Uno-Scanavino). The little Italian keeps putting himself close to the front, finishing today's stage in 9th amidst a bunch of sprinters. He's in 16th on GC, only 56" behind Petacchi, and they haven't even hit the mountains yet. Of course he has benefited from the lack of a prologue time trial; still, the old king of the mountain smurfs could wreak havoc on this race once the road tilts upwards. It's still too early to tell exactly how his form is, but the fact that he is keeping himself so near the front bodes well for a return to former glory.