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88th Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Awards Stage 5
 
By Locutus
Date: 5/12/2005
88th Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Awards Stage 5
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Danilo "Nuke" Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi). With the three categorized climbs on today's stage, the Australian-Italian War of 2005 got to take a rest and the Italians got a chance to just go after one another again. On his home turf, it was "Nuke" Di Luca who was able to talk the talk and walk the walk: he told everybody he was going to take this stage, and then he just went out and did it. His team once again rode a brilliant and strong race, as they placed him right near the front of the pack headed into that final climb. Di Luca easily outsprinted 2nd place finisher Marzio Bruseghin (Fassa Bortolo). In the process, Di Luca (and Bruseghin) got a 2" gap on the field. With that and the time bonus, Di Luca was able to snake the Pink Jersey from Bettini by a mere 3". He also pulled on the Points Jersey, another sign that the sprinters have been taking a back seat quite a bit more than usual in these early stages. Di Luca says that he will now devote himself to the GC chances of Cioni and Garzelli, but you have to wonder: can a rider this talented who is going this good really be held back? The big mountains are not exactly his favorite terrain, but Nuke has never shown this kind of form in the Giro before either.
  • José "Rápido" Rujano (Selle Italia-Colombia). The talented young Venezuelan got into that early break of twenty plus riders, and then he put the wood to everybody on the climbs. The way he rode away from the Bettini group to take the final categorized climb of the day shows that this young man is a serious alpinista who could very well run away with the Green Jersey so coveted by his team of attacking climbers. He now has more than twice the mountain points of anybody else, and even though there is a long way to go to Milano, Rujano proved today that he is the man to beat for the Green. Along with the stage wins by Lancaster and Mazzanti (Panaria-Navigare), the ascendancy of Rujano shows the power of the non-ProTour teams in this race. Here's hoping the little guys continue to stick it to the man.
  • Ivan "Bello" Basso (CSC). His team was very attentive today, and on that last climb to the finish Basso showed he is carrying some good form: he finished in 5th at 2", but more importantly, he finished one place ahead of Cunego (Lampre-Caffita) on terrain that should have suited the defending champ. This weekend we get the first serious stage with the bumpy time trial, and that should show a bit about who the main candidates are to win this thing. Of course the real smack down won't come until late next week, when just looking at the stage profiles is enough to give a guy a nosebleed. Still, given how Basso performed in the absolutely brutal mountain stages of last year's Tour de France and how he rode today, I'm picking "Bello" as the man to beat come Milano. That's right. You heard me.
  • Paolo "Teeny" Bettini (Quick Step). The angry little Italian vented his ire on the course today, attacking like hell and forcing his rivals to chase him all day long. It was certainly refreshing to see the Pink Jersey go on an all-day attack like that… it was so old school… and along the way Bettini won the sprint for a 6" time bonus. Still, if he had played it smart and hung out in the peloton all day, he just might have been able to take DiLuca at the finish line. Even if he hadn't beaten DiLuca, coming in 2nd would have been enough to preserve his Pink Jersey by 3". As it turned out, the Teeny one crossed the line in 39th 2" behind DiLuca and lost his GC lead. While I want to say that Bettini pulled a stupid move today… I just can't find fault with a guy who puts it all on the line and attacks his brains out like that. Aggressive riding is, after all, what the Golden Hams are all about.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • The Sprinters. These guys are so pent up and frustrated you'd think they were in love with a nun. Today was another day of annoying climbs and taking a back seat to those little guys who weigh about as much as the tooth fairy. Tomorrow, yes, there are more climbs, but that final forty kilometers is flatter than a teenage supermodel. On top of that, the next chance the sprinters will have for glory will be Stage 9, and even that has a big climb on it. You can bet that the sprinters and their teammates will do everything they can to keep the breaks in check tomorrow, and when they hit those final laps around Marina di Grosseto, the war between Petacchi and the Aussie Sprint Mafia will be on once again. It should be quite a sight to behold.
 
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