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Giro d'Italia: The Prosciutto Report - Stage 8
 
By Locutus
Date: 5/16/2004
Giro d'Italia: The Prosciutto Report - Stage 8
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Alessandro "Italian Stallion" Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo). Despite the usual result, it was a hairy and hotly contested sprint today. About two dozen men fought for Petacchi's wheel for the last few kilometers, and his leadout men left him in the wind just a little too soon. Pollack got the jump on him up the right-hand side in the final straightaway, and McEwen was (illegally) right where he needed to be to win. Still, Petacchi just took his time, revved up his sprint, and blew straight into the wind down the middle of the road. Nobody could touch the Italian Stallion, even in a "naked" sprint like today, once he got the bit in his teeth and let 'er rip. Another brilliant victory for—there can be no doubt now—the best sprinter in the world. If he makes up his mind to ride to Milan, nobody will touch him in the Points Jersey competition.
  • Tomas Viatkus (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) and Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner). Tomas who? Yeah, Tomas Viatkus, the Lithuanian sprinter for the Landbouw boys had a great day, coming in 2nd behind Petacchi. These days, that's like a victory in and of itself, and this result will give Viatkus a lot of confidence in the days to come. Pollack made the right move, trying to get the jump on the big Fassa monster, but he couldn't hold him off. He's tried everything to get a stage victory, and his 3rd place today actually moved him into 2nd in the points competition (27 points behind Petacchi). If and when the big sprinters pack it in, Pollack will be there to snake the Ciclamino Jersey. If nothing else, he's proven this Giro that he is now a big-time rider, capable of challenging the biggest names in the sport in both the time trials and the sprints.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • "California" Fred Rodriguez (Acqua & Sapone) and Ivan "Flatlander" Quaranta (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave). These two riders came in 13th and 14th in the sprint, respectively, but both had a lot to be optimistic about at the end of the day. Fred actually won the heated battle for Petacchi's wheel. He did everything perfectly today, and coming out of the final corner he had the big Italian right in front of him. Then, he just didn't have it… and he crossed the line shaking his head. Still, he has shown that he can win the battle for position with some of the nastiest elbow-throwers in the world. Now he just needs to have a good day. As for Quaranta, he made it over a climb and was actually there at the end to contest the sprint. Sure, he only came in 14th, but with two pan-flat stages this week, Quaranta is showing signs of form at the perfect time. Who knows…maybe the Flatlander can pull one of his classic bursts out of his hat and finally shut down the Petacchi train in a straight up sprint.
  • Robbie "Sling Me" McEwen (Lotto-Domo). McEwen came in 2nd in the sprint, but he was relegated to 117th for getting an illegal boost from a teammate heading into the final corner. McEwen must be getting frustrated, his victory a couple of days ago notwithstanding: he can't seem to find the burst necessary to come around Petacchi, even when a teammate slings him into the right position to do so. He's still the 2nd-best sprinter in the race, but McEwen is the fiery type of man for whom that simply isn't good enough. Between now and July, you can bet he'll be training his bum off and planning ways to beat the Italian Stallion in the Tour.
  • Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego (Saeco). The defending champ and his young protégé had an easy ride today, as they just sat in the pack and stayed out of trouble. Without any real difficulties for the next few days, these two only have to keep themselves upright and let their boys set some tempo on occasion. They're saving themselves up for the final week, when all hell will break loose. I can't wait.
 
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