Ah yes, it's that time of year… time to follow the riders and size up the hams as they roll through the beautiful scenery of Italy. Like last year, I'm going to be writing Prosciutto reports of this year's Tour where I size up the ham-gazers and the golden hams from each stage. In addition to the daily race evaluations, Crazy Jane will contribute her "Honey-Glazed Ham" report that will look at the lighter side of the Tour and size up the aesthetic appeal of the riders and their fashion. The reports will deliver the usual DP attention to both the drama and humor of the sport we love so much.
For those of you who don't remember, here is the scientific language that the DP's linguistic engineers created to describe that certain aspect of the sport of cycling:
Golden Hams of the Day
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
- "Mad" Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com). Once again, the flying Aussie has shown his expertise at the race against the clock, as he smoked the 6.9 km course in Genoa in a time of 8' 30". Last year, he won the Prologue of the Tour de France and held the Yellow Jersey through Stage 2. With the 10" spanking he gave the field today, and the relatively large time gap to everyone other than Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner), I wouldn't be surprised to see McGee hold the Pink Jersey until the uphill finish at the end of Stage 3. "Mad" Bradley is developing into a truly great rider, and it will be interesting to watch his battles with the "Scottish Rocket" David Millar in the prologues and time trials of the Grand Tours over the next few years.
- Yaroslav Popovytch (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago). He finished the day in 3rd, only 20" behind McGee, but was also the best placed of the GC contenders by a long way. While many have questioned his form coming into this Giro, Popovytch has made an early statement as he attempts to repeat his podium finish from last year. He finished the day 15" ahead of defending champion Simoni (Saeco), 16" ahead of Pellizotti (Alessio-Bianchi), and 27" ahead of Garzelli (Vini Caldirola-Nobeli Rubinetterie). Yeah, there's a long way to Milan, but we now know that Popovytch has come ready to rock.
- Mario "SuperFabio" Cipollini (Domina Vacanze). He was the best of the sprinters, coming through in 11th at 35" behind McGee. He only took 3" out of Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), but he showed that he has come from Georgia with some gas in those old legs of his. Anyone who is my age, and who can get 11th in a prologue for a Grand Tour, deserves some kind of recognition… especially when he does it wearing whatever-the-heck that was he was wearing.
- Stefano "Cheekbones" Garzelli (Vini Caldirola-Nobeli Rubinetterie). After his great performance in the Tour of Romandie, it is obvious that he is on form and ready for the mountains. However, he didn't seem quite ready for this time trial today, coming in 57th at 46" behind McGee. He gave up 11" to his principal antagonist Simoni, who isn't exactly known for his ferocious time trialing. Still, I'm betting that Garzelli bounces back and wins the first big mountaintop showdown on Stage 3.
- Ivan "Lead Shorts" Quaranta (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave). Maybe he looked at the profiles for the first week and got depressed. Maybe he was just saving his energy for later. Whatever the reason, poor Ivan didn't do well today. He's had a rough couple of years, and I was hoping he would rediscover his old form so that he could mix it with Cipo and Petacchi in the sprints to come. Here's hoping this Prologue really is meaningless, and that he will be there to show that blazing speed of his at the end of the flat stages later this week.
Crazy Jane's Prosciutto Squisito
Awwwww yeah. The Giro d'Italia. The first grand tour of the season, and especially since it does contain a healthy percentage of those fantastico Italians, it promises to be molto squisito! Ladies and Gentlemen, the costumes! the hairstyles! Mario Cipollini's teeth! Gilberto Simoni's surgical little moustache! Stephano Garzelli's sculpted eyebrows! Alessandro Petacchi's... er... nevermind. People, I know you're as ready as I am for three weeks of 160 tough guys killing themselves on their bikes to wear a pink shirt. Is cycling the most glorious sport ever, or what?!
Already the prologue has presented us with a charming Maglia Rosa wearing cutie pants with blistering speed and an irresistible smile in Australian Bradley McGee, who was joined, adorably enough, by his little daughter on the podium. We love that kind of thing here at Crazy Jane headquarters!
Mr. McGee wasn't alone on the road today. There were absolute loads of excellent creatures - the usual cast of well-coiffed characters - but, I think you all know that my hands are tied in terms of today's poster boy:
The pure, unmitigated genius that is Mario Cipollini
Photo Courtesy of Domina Vacanze
Il Rey Leone, indeed. You've got to love that guy. Is it just me, or does some of the detail on that costume seem especially... uh... how do you say... strategico?
Over the next three weeks, I, Crazy Jane, and my panel of experts, will be on duty, keeping a keen eye on all that prosciutto. We'll be making careful notes on all the style, grace, courage, drama and beauty that is corsa professionale della bici. As always, your contributions are most welcome! There's a rather bewildering lot of prosciutto squisito on the roads, so if I miss your man, drop me a line at email@example.com, and we'll see if we can't manage to give him his due!
To all of you squisite creatures on the roads of Italia over the next three glorious weeks... buona fortuna! And, as we like to say here at the copy desk, may the best looking man win!