|Golden Hams of the Day|
Ham-Gazers of the Day
- "King" Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner). He's gotten 2nd on both days of the Giro so far, and now has ridden himself into the Pink Jersey. The only thing that kept him from winning the stage was that Italian stallion Petacchi. If he can outlast Petacchi, McEwen, and Cipollini through the mountains, and keep up his kick in the sprints, he might just end up taking home the Points Jersey in Milan.
- Alessandro "Italian Stallion" Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo). Round one in this year's sprinting battle goes to the man from La Spezia. His team was great, chasing down the breakaway and giving him a wonderful leadout. He almost got sideswiped by an erratic McEwen (Lotto-Domo), but was able to avoid trouble and pull away when it counted. He's now picked up where he left off last year. Just don't expect him to try to make it through the mountains of the final week this time around, as he'll likely ditch to prepare for the Tour.
- Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner). Well the German waterboys had one helluva day. They not only snuck in and stole the Pink Jersey, but they also snaked the first Green Jersey for best climber. Wegmann, not exactly known as a superclimber, still climbed well enough to take home the Green. We'll see how long he can hold off defending mountains champ Freddy Gonzalez (Colombia-Selle Italia) with the first big climbs on the horizon. Whatever happens, this is a great beginning for the young man in his first ever Grand Tour.
- Marlon Perez (Colombia-Selle Italia). The attacking Colombian livened up an otherwise droll day of soft-pedaling on this first road stage. While he wasn't able hold off the Fassa-led field for the stage win, he was able to take home the Blue Jersey of the Intergiro competition for his troubles.
- "Mad" Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com). Yeah, he's probably pretty mad about losing the Pink Jersey today. However, with the deficit at only 2" and so many time bonuses scattered about, look for McGee to wind up his own strong sprint in an attempt to reclaim the top spot tomorrow. The intergiro sprint comes after the first of tomorrow's two big climbs… if he can limit his losses to the climbers on the uphills, and regroup on the descents, he could be pretty in pink once again.
- "Magnifico" Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze). His leadout wasn't so invincible today, and he sat up early in the sprint. However, the same thing happened in Georgia recently, and he rebounded to take a stage. Also, as he said in his recent interview, his focus this year is on the Tour and not the Giro. Still, you know he hates to see that young guy win like that. Look for the old lion to roar at least once before he pulls out of the race to focus on Paris.
- Freddy Gonzalez (Colombia-Selle Italia). The defending mountains champion missed out on his first shot at the Green Jersey today, as he came in 2nd behind Wegmann on the only climb. Look for him to attack on the more serious climbs tomorrow to take control of the Green Jersey, probably for good.
Crazy Jane's Prosciutto Squisito
Another day, another victory. That's right, folks, Alessandro Petacchi takes out his 7th Giro d'Italia stage win in fine style, holding on with impressive power after a characteristically dodgy move from Australian pocket rocket Robbie McEwen.
We've been over it and over it in this column that Petacchi is tall, easy on the eyes, and wears his lycra well, nothing new in that department. What was new was the show-boating! Petacchi has always been a low-key butt-kicker, but today, perhaps that little swerve from McEwen in the final meters got the adrenaline pumping, and we did get a nice dose of "I am the KING" over the line.
Alrighty then; if he's going to put it like that, Petacchi is our boy today:
Alessandro Petacchi posts his victory
Photo courtesy of Giro d'Italia
I like looking at Alessandro "dreamboat" Petacchi as much as the next girl who can see a church by daylight, no doubt about it, and I love to see him vanquish the likes of Robbie McEwen, but while we're sprinting, I'd just like to mention a couple other guys I'd like to see in the action. The first is Acqua e Sapone's Fast Freddy Rodriguez, a personal favorite, and the only American at this year's Giro. The Daily Peloton's own Fabio caught up with Freddy yesterday in Genoa, and, I'd just like to point out, captured his charms admirably. Freddy is always on the cusp. At the end of last season, he came pretty darned close to Petacchi on a few occasions, and I'd love to see him fluffing up his plumage, after a thrilling burst of speed, on a podium in Italy this year. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed!
The other man I want to see work his magic is none other than Mr. Show himself, Mario Cipollini. Yesterday's sartorial splendor drew the usual penalty, costing Cipollini 700 Swiss Franks, and the inimitable Phil Liggett reports that the Italian press has taken to needling Cipo by calling him Maria Callas, since he's such a diva; but I'm going to go on record and say that the costume was worth every penny, and that Mario Cipollini is molto, molto squisito. It's not because of his over-styled hair or the magnificent size and whiteness of his teeth, not because he's tall, tan and fit, and wears the best outfits in all of cycling - all of that is fantastic of course - but I want to see him win because no one uncorks a bottle of champagne with more aplomb, or looks better with the podium girls than Super Mario.
Mario Cipollini has been around long enough, and been up and down enough times, to know that sporting glory is fleeting, and there's just something about his smile that says he knows exactly where he's standing in those moments, and how to savour it. He sat up before the finish today, but I would love to see him unfurl all that Italian splendor over the line in the days to come.
I know this may be controversial for some of my girls out there, but as much as Alessadro Petacchi is king today, Mario Cipollini is king everyday.
Long Live Il Rey Leone!