|Golden Hams of the Day|
Ham-Gazers of the Day
- Robbie "Napoleon" McEwen. Finally, the Little Emperor won a stage in this year's Giro. He hit the front too soon, and found himself alone in the wind with 500m left. Wisely, he sat up and waiting for someone else to take the lead. A Gerolsteiner rider obliged, and McEwen jumped on the train and came around after the final corner to win the day. He almost celebrated too soon-Pollack and Zanotti were closing fast-but he held on and fulfilled his ambition for this year's race. Now he holds the Points Jersey, and will have another shot at victory in the flat stage tomorrow.
- Crescenzo "Lover" D'Amore (Acqua & Sapone). Not only did he come in 5th on the stage, but he also beat Massimo Strazzer in the Intergiro sprint to take the Blue Jersey. D'Amore and his teammate Fred Rodriguez have both looked strong over the last couple of days. I look forward to this duo taking at least a stage before the race is over, and expect that they will challenge for the Blue Jersey in Milan. With D'Amore now in 4th in the points competition, they might also challenge for that jersey as well.
- "King" Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner) and Marco "Naughty" Zanotti (Vini Caldirola). They almost caught McEwen before the line, but it wasn't meant to be. For Pollack, this is his third 2nd-place finish of the Giro. He and Zanotti have been the strongest men to challenge McEwen and Petacchi in the sprints, and they both appear to be in the race for the long haul. They could be sprinting for the Points Jersey against each other in Milan at this rate.
- Alessandro "The Great" Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) Like Cipollini yesterday, Petacchi had a miscommunication with a teammate today that cost him the sprint. Heading into the last corner, Petacchi got boxed against the barriers by a teammate, losing his position in the sprint and his Points Jersey to McEwen. He rolled across the line in 12th position, but look for him to gain revenge against the Little Emperor tomorrow.
- Gilberto "Pinko" Simoni (Saeco). He and his team had a relatively easy stage today. While they came to the front at a couple of points near the end, and Simoni himself was near the point of the peloton a couple of times in the finishing circuit, he had a relaxing day overall. He stayed out of the wind, kept himself out of trouble, and racked up another day in the Pink Jersey for his sponsors.
- Nobody else. It was actually a pretty competitive stage, with lots of great attacks, counter-attacks, chases, and sprints along the way. I could pick on Quaranta (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave) again, but at this point it just seems redundant. Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) was injured after his crash in yesterday's sprint, and was just trying to finish the stage, so his relatively poor showing today was to be expected. There are lots of sprinters who weren't even close in today's sprint, but these guys (like Paneria's Davis and Lampre's Svorada) haven't shown much form at all in the race so far.
Crazy Jane's Prosciutto Squisito
I don't mind telling you all that Mario Cipollini's post-crash low profile, Alessandro Petacchi's bungled charge for the line, and Little Robbie McEwen's subsequent victory have me feeling a bit peevish about today's stage.
I did enjoy it that Cipo soldiered on despite his 14 stitches. I especially enjoyed seeing Freddy Rodriguez in an early move, and later lining his guys up on the front for the sprint, even if it didn't launch him straight into the waiting arms of the podium girls (Come on, Freddy!), and I know one of my homies out there was probably really hoping World Champion Igor Astarloa could make one of his attacks stick; but receiving the highest marks in the squisito competition on today's stage, in my opinion, is Bradley McGee. Mr. McGee was like the energizer bunny today - he just kept giving it a go. Moreover, he's pretty darned charming, and writes one of the best rider journals around.
Bradley's going to be our poster boy today, pictured especially fetchingly at this season's Criterium International by Christine Grein of www.capture-the-peloton.com, where you can find a whole lot of photographic evidence that cycling is chock loaded with tasty goodness.
Not bad, Brad!
Photo by Christine Grein
I dare any of you ladies to shake a stick at that.