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88th Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Report Stage 18
 
By Locutus
Date: 5/27/2005
88th Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Report Stage 18
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Ivan "Bello" Basso and David "Friskie" Zabriskie (CSC). It was another great time trial performance for the CSC squad. This time Basso came out on top, spanking the pavement to take his 2nd stage victory with a time of 45' 05" (and an average of 45.249kph). His teammate Zabriskie came in 3rd a mere 20" back, doing the American Time Trial Champion's Jersey proud. For his part, Basso showed pretty convincingly that if he hadn't gotten sick, he'd be destroying the field on GC right now. But he did get sick, and so he's just racing for stage wins… and tomorrow he's actually favored to make it three in a row. That would be a nice way to finish off a race for a man who suffered through stomach cramps and looked like the was going to fall off his bike just this past weekend.
  • Vladimir "Shag" Karpets (Illes Balears) and Dario "Choo-Choo" Cioni (Liquigas-Bianchi). Karpets won the best young rider competition in last year's Tour de France, and today he showed that he is really developing into a major GC threat. He's been riding a quiet race, following in the mountains and minimizing his losses. Today, he flew down the road to 2nd on the stage only 9" behind Basso. This raised "Shag" into 7th on GC, but more importantly, it showed that he is getting stronger as the race is getting longer. It will be interesting to see what he can pull out of his hat tomorrow. Cioni sported his Italian Time Trial Champion kit and came in a solid 5th today at 28". Last year Cioni was 4th on GC in Milano, and it looked like this was going to be a disappointing Giro for the former mountain biker. But like Karpets, Cioni has continued to get stronger in spite of doing so much work for his teammate Di Luca. Cioni leaped up into 8th on GC, giving his team two men in the top ten. In this incredibly competitive Giro, that's pretty darned good.
  • Paolo "Blue Falcon" Savoldelli (Discovery Channel). He started slow, but the "Blue Falcon" gradually picked up speed over the climb and then bombed the descent like an escaped mental patient. He finished the stage in 4th at 23", but he took 1' 11" out of his nearest GC rival Simoni. This put him a fat 2' 09" up in the overall with only one major stage left in the race. Savoldelli will have to get some rest tonight and strap it on tomorrow, because Simoni and Rujano are going to be attacking those climbs like crazy to try to take his Pink Jersey. But the way he has ridden this Giro, Savoldelli looks like he's up to the task.
  • José "Rápido" Rujano (Selle Italia-Colombia). The new king of the mountain smurfs was sure to lose some time today to his rivals. However, Rujano rode a downright respectable race to finish 16th at 1' 59". Sure, he gave up a chunk of time to Savoldelli, but he only surrendered 25" to Simoni and 4" to Di Luca. This kept him in 3rd on GC at 3' 00", which puts him 51" behind Simoni and 8" ahead of Di Luca. It's doubtful that Rujano will move over Savoldelli or Simoni tomorrow, but with his magic in the mountains, he now looks like a lock to take that final podium place in Milano. That is a huge coup, and marks Rujano as the biggest surprise in this year's race.
  • Juan Manuel Garate (Saunier Duval-Prodir). The climbing specialist rode a strong time trial to finish 8th on the stage at 1' 25". He took time out of Di Luca, Rujano, and Simoni, the three men in front of him on GC, and he held off the favored men who were snapping at his heels. Garate goes into the final mountain stage in 5th on GC at 3' 13", only 13" away from the podium. If Rujano and Di Luca have any bad form or mishaps tomorrow, you can bet Garate will be there to take advantage and continue his climb up the overall standings. As it is, this has been a great race for the grand tour veteran on his new team.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Caffita). Simoni didn't do poorly today: he came in 10th on the stage at 1' 34", a performance that solidified his position in 2nd on GC. However, Simoni is a champion, and to him coming in 2nd would be like kissing Cunego. He goes into the final mountain stage 2' 09" down on Savoldelli, which means that Simoni is going to launch at least one of his epic attacks. As we saw yesterday, Simoni has also found a climbing ally in the young Rujano: Simoni is trying to overtake the Pink Jersey, and Rujano is trying to solidify his place on the podium. You can bet these two men will be working together again tomorrow as they make one last desperate attempt to take this race by the short ones. Basso will also be mixing it in trying to take his third straight stage win. It is sure to be one of the most exciting stages in recent memory, so bust out the VCRs, because this is one you'll want to watch over and over again.
  • Danilo "Tighty Whitey" Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi). The man in the white ProTour Leader's Jersey looks to be running out of gas as so many predicted he would. He fizzled into 14th today at 1' 55", which makes his 4th place on GC look downright tenuous. Still, he did pick up a few seconds on Rujano, and if he can find those magic legs he had at the beginning of the race, he could still manage to fight his way onto the podium. Things look bleak for Di Luca right now, but as I said before, Di Luca has a deep supply of intestinal fortitude: if he goes down, he's going to go down swinging.
  • Serhiy Honchar (Domina Vacanze). Another rough time trial for the former world time trial champion. Honchar finished the stage 6th at 40", and remains in 6th on GC at 4' 22". Today was supposed to be the day where he closed the gap on men like Garate, Di Luca, and Rujano… and though he did take some time from these men, it wasn't nearly enough.
 
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