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88th Giro D'Italia: Prosciutto Awards Stage 1
 
By Locutus
Date: 5/8/2005
88th Giro D'Italia: Prosciutto Awards Stage 1
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Paolo "Teeny Weeny" Bettini (Quick Step). It's been a lean year for Bettini, but his ride today will wipe the memories of this spring from his mind. The Mighty Mite made the most of those surprisingly steep little hills at the end of the stage, and when he jumped in the final kilometer, nobody was going to catch him. The Fassa Bortolo train blew to bits under the pressure of his attack, and Bettini rolled across the line a few seconds clear of the pack for the stage victory. Not only did he take the stage, but he also managed to wrest that funky tie-dyed-looking Pink Jersey from Brett Lancaster (Panaria-Navigare). With the extra seconds he picked up at the end, Bettini could well be in pink for a few days. That would be just fine with me, because Bettini is a class act and an amazing champion who is on top of the Giro for the first time in his career.
  • Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank). He was off the front in that four-man break, and then when they hit the only climb of the day, he took off like a big orange shot. He took maximum points at the top of the climb, and pushed up his lead over the peloton as he soloed towards Tropea. He was eventually swallowed up by the relentless peloton, but he got a coveted prize for his efforts: the first Green Jersey for the best climber in the Giro. He may not hold it for long, but I said the same thing last year about a young man named Fabian Wegmann, and he went on to win the final Green Jersey in Milano. You never know….
  • Robbie "Napoleon" McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto). The Little Emperor came in 2nd today, and for a sprinter of his skills, that a pretty good finish (with those hills near the end and all). More importantly, he beat Petacchi across the line by enough to get a separate time. The only problem was that Bettini got there first; otherwise, McEwen would be smiling in pink tonight. Tomorrow is another day, and the Australian champion has clearly brought his "A" game to the Giro. It will be interesting to see if he can smoke Petacchi with a victory on the line in the days to come; if he can do it tomorrow, he'll be able to move up from his position in 2nd on GC at 12" and take the pink.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo). Well today just wasn't the kind of finish that Petacchi and his boys thought it would be. They had control of the field on those hairy narrow roads that twisted down to Tropea, but the ferocity of that little climb in the final kilometer was too much. Petacchi himself charged after Bettini when his leadout fell apart, valiantly trying to bridge up to his little compatriot. Alas, Bettini has a little more pop on the climbs than Petacchi, and even though the Fassa train reorganized itself right near the end, it wasn't enough. Petacchi came in 3rd on the stage at 4", and now sits in 3rd on GC at 14". By taking 3rd today, Petacchi picked up just enough of a time bonus to make a run at the Pink Jersey tomorrow. You can bet that he and his Fassa train will be motivated to bring home the pink after today's disaster.
  • Danilo DiLuca (Liquigas-Bianchi). The Liquigas team had a man on the front helping with the chase for much of the day, and I kept asking myself why. I mean, their big sprinter Cipollini retired before the Giro started. When the riders hit those climbs near the end, it all became clear: they knew about the difficulty at the finish, and were trying to set up the man in the white Pro Tour leader's jersey. The finish was perfect for DiLuca, and he's won stages of the Giro like this before. He was perfectly positioned just behind Petacchi heading into that final kilometer, but when Bettini went, DiLuca couldn't answer. DiLuca finished in 7th, 4" behind Bettini. He could have been having an off day, or maybe his form peaked earlier in the spring when he spanked everyone at the Amstel Gold, the Fleche Wallonne, and the Vuelta a Pais Vasco. Whatever the case, DiLuca is a fighter and you can be sure that he'll be back on the attack again soon.
  • Ivan Basso (CSC). A little lapse of concentration or an early sign of bad legs? Basso came in 20th today, but due to a split in the field he finished 9" behind Bettini. That means he surrendered 5" to men such as Cunego (9th), Savoldelli (11th), Simoni (12th), Garzelli (14th), and Cioni (18th). It was Basso who allowed the split, as he was the first man to receive the 9" time in the pack. Of course his strength is in the high mountains, but the fact that he allowed a gap to open on a stage like today doesn't bode well for his Giro.
  • Emanuele Sella (Panaria-Navigare). Last year, Sella stormed away from the field to take an impressive solo stage victory. The Giro rookie continued to ride like an attacking madman for the rest of the race, eventually finishing in 12th on GC by the time he reached Milano. The expectations for a top ten finish are high for Sella this year, but he didn’t help his cause by rolling across the line in 65th at 23" today. If he wants to go toe-to-toe with men like Cunego and Simoni, he can't let them snake 19" from him on a little day like today.
 
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