Life is full of little surprises and the last two weeks have certainly been
I for one didn't expect to come down with the flu (which is why there was no
Blick last week).
Certainly no one expected Alessandro Petacchi to go so long before winning
his first Giro stage. It was beginning to look as if he were human after all
and could be beat! The low point certainly had to be when his lead-out man
misjudged a corner and the whole team made pavement contact. But cream always
rises to the top and he has so far powered his way to three victories.
Two of the early favorites for the Giro were Ivan Basso and Damiano Cunego.
But now their names are only spoken in tones of sadness. Basso naturally wants
to repeat his excellent performance in last year's Tour de France - or even
improve on his third place - so it only remains to hope he hasn't taken too
much out of himself by continuing to ride with his illness. Cungeo remains a
mystery, with some observers wondering if he's not a "one hit wonder". Or the
next victim of the Italian media's attention, presure and desire to produce the
Paolo Savoldelli is certainly a positive surprise. He started the year off
with a broken collarbone, seemingly just continuing the series of injuries and
illnesses that plagued him during his time with Telekom. It does a fan's heart
good to see him put those two painful years behind him and take his place in the
world's elite again.
My personal favorite surprise is Gerolsteiner's Markus Fothen, who at 23
years old is only in his second pro year and is so far 11th in his very first
Grand Tour (twelfth after today's time trial). Markus came to public attention in 2003 when he was German,
European and World U-23 time trial champion. He is apparently carrying on the
tradition started last year by Fabian Wegmann, in which a young Gerolsteiner
rider jumps into the public spotlight in the Giro. Certainly Gerolsteiner has
done better in the Giro than rival T-Mobile, which has covered itself not with
glory but anonymity.
There are still a few stages to go before the riders roll in to Milan,
including what looks like it will be quite an exciting one Saturday. The viewers
will probably enjoy that one a lot more than the riders will. The top three are
still relatively close together, so nothing is so far definitely settled. Will
there be more surprises, or will the surprise be that nothing will change?