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88th Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Awards Stage 17
 
By Locutus
Date: 5/26/2005
88th Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Awards Stage 17
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Ivan "Bello" Basso (CSC). He held the Pink Jersey and looked like the strongest man in the race, but then illness worked him over pretty good. But even though he lost gigantic chunks of time and felt like garbage, Basso fought through his illness to stay in the race. Today, a fully recovered Basso flew away up the final climb and as soon as he went, it was clear nobody was going to catch him. This was Basso's first stage win in a Giro, and he deserves it… not just for what he did today, but for what he's done in the past week. And clearly, this is not going to be the last time Basso wins a stage in the Giro.
  • Gilberto "G-Man" Simoni (Lampre-Caffita). In the ongoing GC battle, Simoni surprised absolutely nobody and attacked like a spanked monkey on the final climb. He immediately shelled Di Luca, fought off a dogged Savoldelli, and distanced himself from a stubborn Garate. The only man he couldn't drop was Rujano, so the two men worked together to take as much time as possible before tomorrow's big time trial. They seemed to pick up steam the higher they went, until Simoni crossed the line in 3rd at 1' 06" behind Basso. He also took 42" out of Savoldelli and picked up a 6" bonus to move up into 2nd on GC at 58". Simoni is hitting his stride, so it's impossible to tell what kind of time trial he'll turn in tomorrow: he was weak in the first time trial of this Giro, but in the past he has ridden outstanding time trials when the Giro was on the line. If he turns in a great one tomorrow, that could spell curtains for everybody else. If he doesn't, well… that just means he'll attack that much harder in Saturday's last dance in the mountains.
  • Paolo "Blue Falcon" Savoldelli (Discovery Channel). Yeah, I'm giving him a golden ham. Why? Because he rode a smart race, sucked it up on the last climb, and managed to limit his losses and hold his Pink Jersey heading into the time trial. Also, don't forget that Savoldelli actually increased his lead today: he put time into Di Luca, and he now stands a full 58" in front of the new man in 2nd. Savoldelli came in 3rd in the first time trial of the race, so he has the advantage over the remaining GC contenders. But in this Giro, who the heck knows what's going to happen next?
  • José "Rápido" Rujano (Selle Italia-Colombia). He's won the Green Jersey, and now he's shooting for the podium. He outsprinted Simoni to take 2nd on the stage and a 12" bonus. This moved the rapid one into 3rd on GC at 1' 24". He did poorly in the first time trial, but he had some major mechanicals that held him up. So again, it's really difficult to guess how he might actually ride tomorrow. The only thing that's sure is that he's going to attack with Simoni again on Saturday. And that the battle between Rujano, Simoni, Salvodelli, and Di Luca for the podium places will be one for the ages. I mean, when was the last time that the top four GC places in a grand tour were wide open headed into the final few days? And even Garate in 5th (at 2' 11") and Honchar in 6th (at 4' 05") could still make the podium. This is soooo cool…
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi). Di Luca was the only clear loser today. He hadn't had a bad day yet in this Giro, but that finally came today. He struggled up that final climb to finish 16th at 2' 49" behind Basso. He gave up 1' 51" to Simoni and 1' 01" to Savoldelli. He also slipped behind Rujano on GC, where he is now 4th at 1' 36". Di Luca is nothing if not a fighter, and he won't go down quietly. He's still only 12" off the podium, and could potentially even pull off a victory in the overall. Di Luca has never been this close to a big GC finish, and I doubt he's going to let this opportunity slip through his fingers. He's not wearing that bland ProTour leader's kit for nothing.
 
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