|Golden Hams of the Day|
Ham-Gazers of the Day
- "Hammerin'" Henk Vogels (Davitamon-Lotto). After a few years in the states, Vogels made the jump back to Europe. Today, he was almost back at the top as he came very close to winning the stage. What is most impressive about that fact is that Vogels was slowed down behind the Petacchi crash, and had to have a teammate help him fight his way back up to the leaders. Then he wasted no time, flying through those remaining in the pack to set the pace for McEwen. However, because of the lack of other teammates to give a proper leadout, McEwen slowed down a bit while Vogels hit that gas and rode away towards the line. Henk is a powerhouse, and he showed it: only a real stud can ride away like that and almost take a stage. Even though he came up short, Henk gets a big golden ham for having the legs and the cajones to give it one helluva try.
- Robbie "Napoleon" McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto). Well yeah, he said that he wasn't going to stick around for the pain of the last week of this race, and having seen the stage profiles, I can't blame him. However, with this kind of success how can he go away? He took another stage rather easily today, and he also reclaimed the Points Jersey lead. It seems as though the technical finishes of this Giro have gotten the better of Petacchi, but have suited McEwen rather well. If he's still got the Points Jersey late next week, McEwen and his team will have to sit down and really think about all this, and decide if they can pass up an opportunity to take the Points title on Petacchi's home turf.
- Paolo "Teeny" Bettini (Quick Step). Bettini took another intermediate sprint to regain the Pink Jersey, and Liquigas-Bianchi seemed happy to let him do it. With the big GC battle to come, Liquigas can't afford to be firing any more bullets until it really counts. Quick Step, however, have nothing to lose, as they have no GC contender and are all about taking what they can get when they can get it. Bettini is in the pink for now, but he is also in 2nd only six points behind McEwen in the race for the Points Jersey. It could be that when the mountains get a little too tall, Bettini and his mates will change their priorities and have a go at the Ciclamino. This is the most sprinter-unfriendly grand tour in recent memory, and Bettini seems the clearest candidate to take the competition usually reserved for the pure thoroughbreds.
- Nobody. Today was a wild day, with men flying off on the attack from the gun. There were attacks, counters, counters to the counters, and then the sprinters' teams put the stamp down on everything. The only thing that seemed to slow men down today was crashes, of which there were way too many. Some were obviously the result of being a bit too aggressive… like the Fassa catastrophe… and on a day like today, when many of the time losses were neutralized because of that big crash, it doesn't really feel right to give anybody a ham-gazer award. I thought about giving one to Quaranta, you know, because he was off the back on that climb, but he managed to bridge back up to the group solo, which took guts. The only thing that could hold him back was, once again, a crash. So today, no ham-gazers… everybody worked their butts off just to make it to the finish in one piece, and for that, they all deserve a round of… well, beer, actually, but we'll have to settle for congratulations for now.