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Giro d'Italia: The Prosciutto Report - Stage 19
 
By Locutus
Date: 5/29/2004
Giro d'Italia: The Prosciutto Report - Stage 19
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Stefano "Avant Garde" Garzelli (Vini Caldirola Nobili) and Gilberto "G-Man" Simoni (Saeco). Garzelli's attack yesterday failed in part because he had nobody willing to work with him. Today, he teamed up with his former rival Simoni and young star Valjavec and made his attack stick. Garzelli did the lion's share of work in the break, and his potent sprint sealed the deal as he took home the stage win. In addition, he jumped from 8th to 6th on GC. But really, today was just about the win, which will go a long way towards adding some luster to Garzelli's sub-par Giro. For his part, the G-Man fought like hell, going with Garzelli early in the stage and pounding the pedals all day in his attempt to take 2nd on GC. He fell just 3" short, but there are time bonuses on the road tomorrow. And while these two former Giro champs must be somewhat melancholy about their inability to win the overall this year, they have gone down like true champions: they have attacked, attacked, and attacked again. Or to use that old boxing metaphor, they're going down, but they're going down swinging.
  • Tadej "Mahal" Valjavec (Phonak). He had a hard time keeping up with the former champs in that day-long break, but he kept digging deep and fighting back to their wheels. He ended the day in 3rd at 23", but that was good enough to move him from 11th on GC to 9th at 6' 34". He has had a great Giro, and he has finished strong. Both he and his team will be ecstatic about his top ten finish tomorrow in Milano.
  • Dario "Choo-Choo" Chioni (Fassa Bortolo). Cioni showed that he has saved his best for the final week, as he once again attacked on the final climb and left many of his rivals in the dust. In the end, only Cunego was able to hold his wheel, and he closed down a lot of time on Garzelli and Simoni to finish 4th on the stage at 52". This moved him up into 4th on GC as well, where he sits 4' 44" behind Cunego and 21" ahead of Popovych. For a man who has done a lot of work in the service of Petacchi on the flats, this is a truly amazing finish to his Giro.
  • Fabian "Turn Me Loose" Wegmann (Gerolsteiner. He went with the early break, and managed to get over the nastiest climb of the race, the dreaded Mortirolo, in 2nd position. He was then swallowed up by the big names, but this was enough to launch him into the lead of the Green Jersey competition by 2 points over Cunego. With tomorrow's flat stage, this means that the young Giro rookie will take home a huge prize for his team. He's not that great of a climber compared to men like Cunego, but Wegmann's attacking style has had him off the front long enough to finish as one of the heroes of the Giro.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Andrea Noe (Alessio Bianchi). He had a disastrous day, finishing in 44th at 15' 53" behind Garzelli. This dropped him from 10th on GC to 17th at 21' 59". Noe is usually a model of consistency, and he looked like a solid bet to squeek into the top ten on GC. He will be bitterly disappointed by this bad day on the last stage in the mountains.
  • Serhiy "Honcho" Honchar (De Nardi). He was put on the defensive by all of his rivals early in the stage, but he answered the challenge and rode like a monster. Sure, he couldn't catch Simoni, or even hold the wheel of Cioni and Cunego when they attacked. But he held his tempo, pounded up the final climb, and finished the stage in 8th at 1' 23". This was good enough to preserve his 2nd position on GC by a mere 3" over Simoni. With the flat stage tomorrow, the advantage is now clearly with Honcho as he tries to hold off the defending champ in their battle for the lower spots on the podium.
  • "Mad" Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com). Damn, McGee has ridden his guts out in this Giro. He was dropped on the big climbs, but kept his own tempo and fought back time on the downhills. He crossed the line in 9th at 1' 43". He lost a GC place to Garzelli, and he is now in 8th on GC at 6' 15". However, he crossed the line today in the same time as Belli, who sits only 3" in front of him on GC. Tomorrow, I'd bet money that McGee will attack at the Intergiro and at the finish line in an attempt to climb up one more spot on the GC. And I wouldn't bet against McGee pulling it off, either.
  • Yaroslav "Jiffy Pop" Popovych (Landbouwkrediet Colnago). He slipped another spot on GC as he was dropped by Cioni on the final climb. Popovych crossed the line in 16th at 2' 34", and now is in 5th on GC at 5' 05". However, Popovych is still a very young man, and at 24 years old he will likely be mixing it up with Cunego for dominance in the Giro for the better part of the next decade. He'll take the lessons of this Giro to heart, and emerge a much better and more dangerous rider in the future.
 
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