It was a weekend of comebacks, with a few disappointments and question marks
thrown in - in other words, a typical exciting weekend in pro cycling.
The biggest comeback was, of course, Paolo Savoldelli, who led the Giro in its
last week. Practically isolated from his teammates in the mountain stages,
relying on other teams for help, not always in the leading group, he gutted it
out to hang on to a mere 28-second lead. After he lost two years to injuries
and illness, many wondered if Discovery Channel was taking too big a chance on
him, but he proved them right.
Another Giro comeback was Gilberto Simoni. After winning in 2001 and 2003, he
was last year forced to work for younger teammate and eventual winner Damiano
Cunego. This year Cunego was nowhere to be seen, and Simoni and finished a
strong second in the race, battling valiantly in the final mountain stages in a
unsuccessful attempt to take over the lead.
Over in Germany, the International Bayern Rundfahrt saw the re-emergence of
Andreas Klöden into the spotlight. His weak performance of the earlier spring
was attributed to altitude training which totally backfired, and there were many
questions as to what kind of performance he would show in Bavaria. He
missed the decisive break in the third stage - as did most of the peloton -
but came back to place third in the time trial. He would have placed higher had
he stayed on the course (whether he was mis-directed or simply made an error is
not clear). This kind of mishap might have caused some riders to throw in the
towel, but Klöden was able to motivate himself from it. Not only was he in the
right breakaway group this time, he was able to sprint to victory 9 seconds ahead
of his flight companions.
Disappointments and questions marks? Damiano Cunego. Joseba Beloki. Ivan
Basso - definitely a question mark rather than a disappointment.
No sooner is the last lap in Milan finished than the fans' thoughts turn to
France. Which of the favorites will be in what kind of form, who will be on
which team, and - to stay by the theme - which Giro riders will be able to
come back from their efforts in Italy to impress in France?