Golden Hams of the Day|
Ham-Gazers of the Day
- Fassa Bortolo's domestiques. Petacchi has been up and down a bit, struggling on the climbs and crashing, and they have always been there to bring their man back to the front. They've controlled the breakaways, led out the sprints, and dominated the flat stages so far. They are a strong and experienced squad dedicated to one man, and appear to have taken the mantle of best leadout squad from Domina Vacanze just as Petacchi has taken the mantle of best sprinter from Cipollini. We'll see if they can keep this up for the whole race.
- Alessandro "Italian Stallion" Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo). He crashed on the wet roads with 35km left, but he remounted, and with his awesome squad leading the way, he spanked everyone again in the final sprint. He was a full bike better than McEwen, and he reclaimed the Points Jersey from Saeco's Cunego. He will have a hard time with the little climbs on tomorrow's finishing circuit, but one thing is clear: if he makes it to the finish in the bunch, he is nearly impossible to beat.
- Simone Cadamuro (De Nardi), Marco Zanotti (Vini Caldirola-Nobili), and Fred Rodriguez (Acqua & Sapone). They came in 3rd, 4th, and 5th in today's sprint, evidence that they have good form and are sprinting well. They also showed that when men like Petacchi, Cipollini, and McEwen leave the race to prepare for the Tour, they will be there to fight for the stage victories.
Grazed Hams of the Day
- Robbie "Napoleon" McEwen (Lotto-Domo). While McEwen has been right at the front in the sprints so far, he hasn't found the answer to the big Italian's kick. The cantankerous Aussie sprinter had a great leadout today, as his boys helped set the pace in the final kilometers and put him right where he needed to be. Despite the great positioning, McEwen was still unable to come around Petacchi at the end. His 2nd today is a great result, but for a man of McEwen's talent and competitive temperament, this will be little consolation. Still, his form seems to be improving and he looks like he'll be ready for his biggest goal of the year: winning the Green Sprinter's Jersey at the Tour de France.
- Ivan Quaranta (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave). Once again he yo-yoed off the back of the peloton every time the road tilted slightly upward. However, with the help of his team, he was positioned right near the front in the final kilometers. When it came down to the sprint, he washed away and played no role in the finale. For a man who was so spectacular just a couple of years ago, this must certainly be demoralizing. Here's hoping that he can find his sprinting legs again before the mountains hit in earnest.
- "Magnifico" Mario Cipollini. He went down hard in the final sprint, and came up bleeding from his arm and leg. He looked to be swinging around the small clump of men in front of him to try to challenge Petacchi, but his teammate, who was dropping off from leading out the sprint, decelerated right in front of big Mario and took out his front wheel. Here's hoping that his injuries are not serious, and that he's able to come back tomorrow to mix it again in the sprints.
- Andrea Tonti (Saeco). He was also taken down in the Cipo crash, going over his handlebars hard and snapping his front forks. He came up bleeding and unhappy, but he was able to remount and roll across the finish. If Tonti's injuries are enough to affect his riding, this could be a blow to Simoni's Saeco train. Here's hoping that the bruises are superficial and that he's able to return to defend his leader's Pink Jersey tomorrow.