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Giro d'Italia Prosciutto Awards, Stage 17
By Locutus
Date: 5/28/2003
Giro d'Italia Prosciutto Awards, Stage 17
Golden Hams of the Day:
  • Alessandro "The women say I’m more handsome than Mario" Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo). Boy, Cipollini must be crossing Isaac Galvez Lopez off of his Christmas card list. The Spaniard—who Simoni characterized yesterday as “reckless”—took out Cipollini in a dangerous corner last week, ending the Giro for both sprinters just as Cipo had found his legs and taken a couple of stage wins. Now Petacchi has tied Mario’s high mark for stage wins in a Giro with six. Petacchi is banged up too, but he’s still in the race and showing tremendous courage and form. Petacchi has one more chance at a stage victory on Stage 20, and could well turn in one of the greatest Giro performances ever. As it is, Italy will be talking about his performance for decades to come.
  • Jan Svorada (Lampre). The Czech sprinter gave a hard charge up the right in the sprint and almost stole Petacchi’s thunder today. Svorada is a world-class sprinter who is inconsistent, but when he’s on he can take anybody. He will likely be the biggest threat to keep Petacchi from breaking Mario's mark for stage wins on Saturday. Now Svorada’s team must try to fight off Petacchi’s Fassa men in the race for best team. Lampre leads the competition by 9’ 14”, but that lead could vanish quickly in the mountains. The winner gets a free invite to all of next year's grand tours, an invaluable prize given JML’s tendency to diss Italian teams these days.
  • Magnus Backstedt (Team Fakta-Pata Chips). He has had a great ride this Giro, coming in 2nd on the time trial and attacking on several occasions. Today the big Swede won the Intergiro sprint, taking a commanding lead in his hotly contested Blue Jersey race with Moreno Di Biase (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave). If Backstedt takes home the Blue, it will be the best Giro for Scandinavians in years: his teammate, Norwegian champion Kurt Asle Arvesen, took a magnificent stage win by outsprinting Simoni, and Backstedt now goes into the final mountains ahead of a sprinter in the Intergiro race. The spirits of their Viking ancestors must be smiling down on them from Valhalla.

Ham-Gazer of the Day:
  • Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) and Stefano Garzelli (Caldirola-Sidermac-Saunier Duval). The Maglia Rosa and his biggest rival once again sat on today, following their teammates and staying out of trouble near the front in preparation for their final showdown in the mountains over the next two days. Simoni has the upper hand and looks unbeatable in the mountains, but Garzelli has said that he will risk everything—including his podium position—to attack Simoni in his quest for the Pink Jersey. Garzelli’s “give me victory, or give me BONK” attitude should make the remaining stages a joy to watch.
  • Lars Bak (Team Fakta-Pata Chips). The Dane was last across the line today, finishing in 138th at 3’ 33”. I chose him to represent those men who are now just trying to finish the race, who are riding on pride in their quest to make it to Milano. He may play a part in the race—perhaps setting up his teammate Backstedt for the Intergiro sprints—but his chances of winning a stage are pretty remote now. He is the kind of professional who now just wants to cross the final finish line for the sake of doing it. Hats off to Bak and the rest of the men who are hurting but hanging on as they head into the final few stages.
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