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Giro d'Italia: The Prosciutto Report - Stage 14
 
By Locutus
Date: 5/23/2004
Giro d'Italia: The Prosciutto Report - Stage 14
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Alessandro "Italian Stallion" Petacchi and Marco Velo (Fassa Bortolo). Today Petacchi won another great sprint after getting a great leadout from his team. It was a difficult leadout over the last few kilometers, with several other teams trying to swamp the Fassa train and a few opportunists launching themselves off the front. But when the time was right, Velo and his friends put the hammer down and blew away the rest of the field, leaving Petacchi to dual it out with Rodriguez for his record-tying seventh Giro stage win. Tomorrow is another long, flat stage, and between that and the stage in Milan, it would be an upset if Petacchi didn't break the modern record for stage wins this year.
  • Giuseppe Muraglia (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave) and Raffaele Illiano (Colombia-Selle Italia). These two men have been off the front more often than I can count. On the flat stages, the breakaways have been doomed by the persistence and power of the Fassa train, but these two men have continued to go on attack after attack. Today they were at it again, attacking early and getting caught only right near the finish. They have yet to succeed, but their valiant efforts have livened up several stages and made the Giro a much more interesting race. "California" Freddy Rodriguez (Vini Caldirola-Nobili). Once again he won the battle for Petacchi's wheel in the final kilometers. He came through the final corner right on the Italian hero, which allowed him to avoid the crash behind that slowed down the rest of the sprinters. He tried to come around Petacchi on the left, but like so many other days, he couldn't get past Petacchi's drivetrain. Still, his 2nd place finish capped another impressive showing in what has been a Giro of redemption for Freddy after a couple of down years.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Gilberto Simoni (Saeco). The defending champ had a chance to recover today from his crash, and his teammates had a chance to recover from defending the Pink Jersey for the last week-and-a-half. They will get another chance to relax and recover in the pack tomorrow before the mountains hit on Tuesday. In the long run, losing the Pink Jersey in yesterday's time trial could have been the best thing to happen to Saeco.
  • Nobody else. The crash at the end of the stage made it difficult to really gauge what sprinters were having an off day. Men like McEwen (Lotto-Domo), Pollack (Gerolsteiner), and Nauduzs (Domina Vacanze) all could have come through that final corner and put in a challenge to Petacchi if they hadn't had to slow to avoid going down themselves. On the one hand, this is a good example of why positioning is so important in a sprint finish. On the other hand, we've seen these men recover from bad positioning before to challenge for the stage wins in a final sprint. Tomorrow, these men will get their final drag strip finish before they say goodbye to the front of the field until Milan. For McEwen and likely, for a few others as well this will actually mean the end of the Giro for another year.
 
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