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88th Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Awards Stage 3
 
By Locutus
Date: 5/10/2005
88th Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Awards Stage 3
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Paolo "Teeny Weeny" Bettini and his Quick Step Posse. Despite Robbie McEwen holding the Pink Jersey, it was the Quick Step squad of Bettini that was on the front setting the pace most of the day. While the day didn't go exactly as planned, things turned out all right for them in the end. Bettini took 2nd in the intermediate sprint ahead of Alessandro Petacchi to pick up a 4" bonus, and then he lit up the course on that last climb of the day. His attacks and counter-attacks kept Liquigas in check and put pressure on those who are not so good on the climbs. By the end of the day, Bettini and his team were rewarded with another Pink Jersey. Though the Italian botched the sprint, he still managed 6th and ended the day a healthy 9" ahead of Di Luca and 17" ahead of Cunego. With the sprinters now far in the rearview mirror, Bettini could be in the pink for awhile.
  • Danilo "Nuke" Di Luca, Stefano "Avant Garde" Garzelli, Dario "Choo Choo" Cioni, and Andrea "The Ghost" No (Liquigas-Bianchi). While Quick Step was primarily responsible for keeping the pace high and chasing down the break of Russel van Hout (Selle Italia-Colombia), it was Liquigas who led the charge to bury the sprinters on the final climb. Di Luca's duel with Bettini blew the peloton to pieces, and the dream mountain leadout team of Garzelli, Cioni, and No kept the pace high over the top and all the way to the finish. Their work put Di Luca in the driver's seat for that tricky sprint finish, which he polished off for yet another great victory in this, his best season ever. In the process, Cioni picked up the Green Jersey for the best climber by virtue of his going over that last climb in first position. Not a bad day, and by the looks of it, there is a lot more to come from the boys in, um, is that green they're wearing? Oh whatever, they kicked butt today.
  • Damiano "The Omen" Cunego (Lampre-Caffita). The Lampre boys have been keeping a low profile, saving their strength for those long days to come in the mountains. With two and a half weeks still left, it's a very wise tactic. Still, Cunego couldn't stand just marking his rivals over that last climb. When it came down to the sprint finish, the feisty defending champ couldn't resist making a run at the line. He came up just short, coming in 2nd in the stage by inches, but in the process he picked up a nice time bonus to put him in 3rd on GC. This is how it started for the Boy Wonder last year as well: early stage success that gave him the edge over his boss on GC. Hmmm things will get a lot more interesting for that Lampre squad before they get to Milano.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • The Sprinters. Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) and Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) are both carrying good form, and were fully capable of making it over that climb today in good shape. Unfortunately, the climbers decided to actually race over that last climb, launching a frenzy of attacks that left the big sprinters struggling in their dinner plate gears off the back. Petacchi finished in 61st and McEwen was 69th; both men were in the group that dropped 1' 02" to the lead pack of mountain goats. This puts the GC out of reach for these two, leaving them only their ongoing battle for stage wins. With the acrimony and frustration mounting, the flat stages to come should be quite a sight to see.
  • Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank). Alas, poor Thorwald! The young man in the Green Jersey couldn't stay anywhere near the front when the big guns fire up the mountain, and he eventually finished in 114th at 5' 40". Still, two days in the Green Jersey is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a guy as green as Veneberg.
  • Paolo "Blue Falcon" Savoldelli (Discovery Channel). The Discovery rider has executed the Bruyneel plan to perfection so far: he has stayed near his main rivals, kept himself out of trouble, and saved his legs (and the legs of his mates) for the battles to come. Despite the fact that the Blue Falcon has only followed wheels so far on the road stages, he is still in 5th on GC at 26". He's walking softly, and it seems like he's just waiting for the right time to bust out his big stick and get to work.
 
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