|Golden Hams of the Day|
Ham-Gazers of the Day
- Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski). Igor and his boys flew down the road in their much more appealing yellow jerseys today. They took 10" out of US Postal, and Igor got to exchange his yellow jersey for the Gold Jersey. The team looked strong, but the fact that Jaksche and Pradera were left behind and the team crossed the line with only seven riders might be cause for concern. Manolo Saiz also has a tendency to bury his team in the first week in defense of the leader's jersey when he should be saving them for later in the race. If Saiz can just let his boys take it easy, he'll be in a perfect position heading into the first individual time trial on Thursday.
- Roberto "Spanish Fly" Heras (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). The BlueBerry Boys had the perfect tactical ride today: they had all nine men as they approached the finish (Matt White sat up in the final 500 meters), and they only lost 10" to ONCE. This puts the burden of early leadership on their rivals, and gives the Posties an opportunity to sit on until the big climb tomorrow of the Cat 1 Alto Mirador Del Fito. The climb finishes 17km from the finish, so it's unlikely that any big shakeup in the GC will come from it, but with gradients of 11% at some points, it will be an early opportunity for Heras to put the hammer down and see how his rivals can respond. It should be fun to watch.
- iBanesto.com. They were first on the road today, but they pulled off a stunning ride to end up in 3rd only 24" behind ONCE. For a team stocked full of climbers, this is an outstanding performance. They also had all nine men cross the line together, a great display of team strength that all of the other squads would do well to take note of. Their sponsorship ends this year, but iBanesto looks ready to really go out with a bang in this Vuelta.
- Oscar "Flying Elf" Sevilla (Kelme-Costa Blanca). His team was 4th on the day, and Oscarlito is now in 29th only 45" behind Gonzalez de Galdeano. This was a great performance for the team that many have said is weak this year. Tomorrow his mates will likely start attacking, and look for Sevilla to try to stay close to men like Heras and Gonzalez de Galdeano when the road tilts up. He hasn't had as much preparation as he'd like, so tomorrow will be a huge test for the Spanish favorite.
Crazy Jane's Museo Especial del Jamón: Los Jamones Deliciosos
- Aitor "Chaff" Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo). Aitor knew coming in that he wasn't really a threat in the GC… his form has been off all season, despite his best efforts and lots of team support. His untimely mechanical compounded a generally poor ride by his team today, and he is now in 103rd at 1' 29" behind ONCE. He gave up way too much time to his big rivals, and he's not going to make that time up in the mountains. He will see what he can make up in the first individual time trial, and then go from there. Now he just has to make sure he stays with the leaders on the climbs tomorrow.
- Juan Antonio Pecharroman (Paternina-Costa de Almeria). The supposed team leader got dropped by his teammates, which shows how much animosity there is on the team now that Pecharroman has signed with Quickstep for next year. He finished in a dismal 189th at 6' 08" behind ONCE. In essence, he lost any hopes of a GC victory…now he will have to settle for stage wins. Maybe Quickstep will start to help him out a bit now, instead of waiting for next year.
- Cadel Evans and Erik Zabel (Telekom). They ended up in 109th and 108th respectively at 1' 26" behind ONCE. This puts Zabel out of any hope for the Gold Jersey in the first week, and is a setback for Evans' GC aspirations. Evans is the type of rider who will rebound strongly, so while he dropped important time, his race is far from over. Zabel is just going to focus now on sprint wins and the points jersey. A bad day, but not a disaster for the pinkies.
- Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank). Okay, so Levi didn't have that bad of a day considering that his team is a bit weak in the time trials. He is now in 89th at 1' 18" back, and he looked good during the ride. His form after his Tour crash is still a question mark, but we'll find out over the next few days if he is back to 100%. Tomorrow's climb of the Cat 1 Alto Mirador del Fito should provide the first real test of Levi's legs. Here's hoping his sitting bones are all healed up and he is ready to rumble.
- Ivan "Lead Shorts" Quaranta (Saeco). Dude. It's like the organizers decided to just get rid of poor Ivan right off the bat: they put a Cat 3 climb right out of the gate on today's team time trial. Quaranta never had a chance. Not only is he a terrible climber, but also his left knee was bandaged indicating a recent crash. He is now out of the race before it even started. It was a pretty sad sight to see. Maybe he's just doing a leadout for Cipollini?
I'll be brief today, but to begin, I just want to say that you'll never hear me complain about a team time trial, I mean, what's not to love? Round up 200 guys who look good in skinsuits, and I'm in! Everyone looked fabulous, and we at Crazy Jane headquarters couldn't be more pleased that there is a Grand Tour on the road.
Looking good today: ONCE and iBanesto.com, going out in style. ONCE in full flight is a beautiful sight, as is the Postal blue streak. I still love Bianchi's celeste retro strip, especially on that handsome Spaniard Angel Casero. Rabobank's silver helmets rule, and that red bit on the back of the legs on the USPS skinsuits is mesemerizing. Mario Cipollini's tan and blond highlights are unparalleled, obviously. Matt White wins the funny glasses award in a rare upset victory over Oakley's number one model, George Hincapie, who looked as hopped up on charm as ever. Eric Zabel was compact and fit in the German Champion's kit, and finally, I didn't see him today, but there were photos, and today's Vuelta poster boy going to be Oscarlito Sevilla:
We haven't seen him all year, and from what I hear, it hasn't been especially pleasant for him. Still, as this photo clearly demonstrates, the important details are unchanged: he still has cheeks like apples.
Not looking so good today: The Phonak and Kelme kits are neck in neck for the "ugliest costume in cycling" award, Ivan Quaranta looked like he's got rocks in his pants (and not in a good way), and what happened to Fassa Bortolo? 13th place? 1'25" down? Oh dear...