|Golden Hams of the Day|
Ham-Gazers of the Day
- Unai and David Etxebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi). What great day for the Orangemen! David was one of the original four who launched the attack on the Cat 1 Puerto del Escudo. Unai bridged up with three others later on, and together they used their numbers to smoke everyone else in the break. Unai's attack was perfectly timed to take an easy victory, and David's sprint mopped up the remnants of the break for 2nd place. Euskaltel had a brilliant Tour de France, but both Unai and David received heavy penalties for illegal drafting during the Stage 12 time trial that caused them to miss the time cut. This stage will make the Etxebarrias forget about their Tour debacle, and for good reason: they rode brilliantly today, showing great teamwork and superior legs when it counted.
- Isidro Nozal (ONCE-Eroski). Once again ONCE got a man into the break when it counted, and thus they got another free ride to the finish while other teams did the work. Nozal only took 6th on the stage, but his presence off the front put him in the Golden Jersey. He is the third ONCE man to wear the jersey, and the team has yet to do a lot of work in this race. For once, Manolo Saiz's strategy seems to be working out just fine!
- Erik "Tower of" Zabel (Telekom). Okay, so his team didn't chase down the break for him, but he won the field sprint for 8th to move up in the points competition. While Petacchi struggled today and didn't contest the field sprint, Zabel stayed consistent and won the maximum points available. While Petacchi is the better sprinter and says that he wants to make it to Madrid, Zabel is the better climber and tactician, which makes the German my favorite to win that funky looking Points Jersey.
Grazed Hams of the Day
- Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo). That Cat 1 climb was nasty today, and frankly, Petacchi did well just finishing with the bunch. He yo-yoed off the back of the peloton, looking like a whipped dog when the road pitched up. He didn't do enough to take the stage, but he did show that he might just have the form to make it to Madrid. While Zabel has the advantage in the points competition, if Petacchi can keep hanging around like this he will take the most stage wins in this Vuelta and establish some marks in the record books that people will be talking about for decades.
Crazy Jane's Museo Especial del Jamón:
- Oscar Sevilla (Kelme-Costa Blanca). Oscar had a rough day yesterday, crashing hard and picking up a bruised hip and lots of road rash. He hung tough today, and while he couldn't stay with men like Heras on the steepest part of the Puerto del Escudo, he stayed close enough to catch back on quickly on the descent. If he can keep hanging like this for the next couple of days, the ill effects of the crash will vanish and he can continue his assault on the podium.
Los Jamones Deliciosos
La Vuelta Hermosa rolls on, and today, it's a delightful 2-up victory for the extra lovable Euskaltel-Euskadi team. Venezuelan Unai Extebarria and Spaniard David Extebarria are both handsome latin especiales, and today's stage winner, Unai was a featured charmer in my Tour de France column - let's review, shall we?
Photo by Anita Van Crey
Yes. Not bad. Nice Shootin' Anitz!
First, a little catch-up:
I didn't really mention it yesterday, but it's time for a word or two on the subject of Tom Boonen. Young Tom, Big Tom... I'm not sure which adjective I want to go with here, but TOM, anyway, is a charming individual. He's tall, has hair and skin the color of honey, a sweet smile, the complexion of a 12 year old boy, and some truly impressive thighs. It's nice to see him riding into his enormous potential while giving the beauty of the peloton a big boost. May his path be a straight one.
And, was that Christian Piepoli in the break the other day? IMPRESSIVE!
Then, a few other details from today:
Alessandro Petacchi didn't quite have the juice today, but though I missed seeing him unfurl all that Italian splendor over the finishline, I feel sure he will get another chance. Meanwhile, Eric Zabel made the bunch sprint look easy-breezy. For a guy who's been taking the heat for an off season (only 11 victories!), he sure does look strong and no one can deny consistency like that. Plus, we girls like him.
The Postal/Berry boys look to be riding a smart race. Michael Barry, recounting recent events in his Vuelta Diary, said that Postal's strategy thus far has involved remembering that you don't win the race in these early stages, but you can lose it. With the likes of Levi Leipheimer, last year's conqueror Aitor Gonzalez, and 2001 Vuelta King Angel Casero losing significant time early on, things are looking solid for Postal's little Pixie, Roberto Heras. Unsurprisingly, I've noticed some studly riding from George Hincapie, Barry, and Matt White. Heras has long deserved a team who could put him in position to repeat his victory in the Vuelta, and I can confirm that he has a delicioso one!
Oscarlito Sevilla, Crazy Jane's Official Favorite™, suffered an unfortunate crash during yesterday's deluge, going down hard on a hip and knee and scoring himself some lovely road rash. He suffered a bit on the climb today. Obviously, I don't like to see that! If there is justice, Locutus's predictions will hold true, and Sevilla will be able to recover sufficiently in the coming days to hold it together for a good enough Time Trial, and head for the mountains strong despite being a bit grazed... but I'm hoping he will reveal that he is more of a BULL than a ham. Venga, Oscarlito!