|Golden Hams of the Day|
Ham-Gazers of the Day
- David "Friskie" Zabriskie (CSC). The Friskie one took his second stage win in as many grand tours with a severe spanking of today's very difficult course. In last year's Vuelta a Espaņa, Zabriskie went on a massive solo breakaway that ended in victory; that win took everyone in the European peloton by surprise, as the unknown Zabriskie used his time trial skills to hold off a field that really wanted to bring him back. Today, he put those same skills to use once again as he stunned the European peloton with another clear victory. With this butt-whipping, Zabriskie established that he was no lucky flash in the pan, but rather a talented young man to be taken very seriously. In the days to come, he will have to put that talent at the disposal of his team as they make their charge for the Pink Jersey.
- Ivan "Bello" Basso (CSC). Basso was the clear winner amongst the GC contenders today. He finished 17" behind his teammate Zabriskie, but he put 27" into Savoldelli, 34" into Honchar, over a minute into Di Luca, Garzelli, and Cioni, and he took a massive 2' 07" from Cunego and 2' 35" from Simoni. Yesterday, he looked sketchy as he dropped 20" on that finishing climb to his main rivals. Today, however, he showed that he is on form and riding at his best, which spells bad news for everybody else once the long, painful climbs hit on Thursday. He just has to hope now that Riis won't burn out his teammates by putting them on the front too much and too soon in the days to come.
- Danilo "Nuke" Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi). He was supposed to lose the Pink Jersey today, but instead he managed to sneak into 10th on the stage at 1' 35" behind Zabriskie. This means that Di Luca still holds a slim 9" lead over Basso on GC. It also means that Di Luca, who is not that good of a time trialist, really is in incredibly good form right now. His teammates Garzelli and Cioni both finished 21" behind him, which put them in 6th and 5th on GC respectively. There is no longer any clear leader on this team, as Di Luca, Garzelli, and Cioni all appear to be equally strong and capable of finishing on the podium in Milano. Di Luca is not known for his ability on the longer, nastier climbs to come, but then again, he's not known for his time trialing either. "Nuke" would probably serve his team best by continuing to attack like crazy, drawing the sting from his rivals and allowing Garzelli and Cioni to bide their time and save their energy until the final week. That is, if they can avoid being dropped like they were yesterday.
- Paolo "Blue Falcon" Savoldelli (Discovery Channel). He had one bit of bad luck in the first week, losing 39" on stage 4 when he was caught out behind a crash. If it hadn't been for that, he'd be in the Pink Jersey by 4" right now. Sure, the Blue Falcon faded in the last section of the course, but so did most of the guys out there today. He still managed to come in 3rd at 44", a performance that moved him up into 3rd on GC at 35" behind Di Luca. He trails Basso by only 26", and he has everyone else in his rearview mirror. And keep this in mind: when Savoldelli won the Giro in 2002, he did it by attacking in the mountains in the final week. Savoldelli gets stronger as the race gets longer, which bodes extremely well for the Disco boys as they try to put an end to their Pro Tour drought.
- Gilberto "G-Man" Simoni and Damiano "Boy Wonder" Cunego (Lampre-Caffita). With that Cat 3 climb in the first half of the course, this looked like a time trial that might actually equalize things a bit for the "pure" climbers. Alas, that was not the case for Simoni and Cunego. Simoni crossed the line 23rd at 2' 52" behind Zabriskie, and Cunego fizzled to 16th at 2' 24". Cunego is in 4th on GC at 1' 15", while Simoni is in 10th at 2' 11". But these two are known for their ability on the big climbs, so you can bet that they'll be bringing the 1-2 punch as they attack Basso and Savoldelli like crazy in the Dolomites. Some are saying that these two are practically out of GC contention, but that is far from the case. Yes, they have ground to make up, but they showed yesterday that they are ready for the climbs to come. With these two looking to make up time now, the rest of this Giro should be an absolute barn burner.
- Michele Scarponi (Liberty Seguros). The Italian GC man for the Spanish squad has yet to impress in this Giro so far. Today he finished in 22nd, 2' 47" adrift of the winner. This put him in 12th on GC at 2' 28", and he will now have a big struggle on his hands to crack the top ten in Milano. Scarponi is an amazing young talent, and he could come good in the final week, but he will have to find some hams soon to make that happen.
- Serhiy Honchar (Domina Vacanze). This was supposed to be his day. He's won five time trials in the Giro over the years, and last year he rode his strong time trialing to 2nd overall in Milano. Today he could only manage 5th, 51" off the pace of Zabriskie. Honchar now sits in 8th on GC at 1' 39", but with the time trial behind him, he will have a very hard time to improve his GC standing.