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Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Report, Stage 16
 
By Locutus
Date: 5/23/2006
Giro d'Italia: Prosciutto Report, Stage 16
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Ivan "Bello" Basso (CSC). Basso busted out that big can of Varese whupass again today. When he accelerated, it looked easy and effortless. He just floated away from everybody else: the closest man at the finish line atop the final climb was 1' 26" back. Not only did he win another stage, but he also took the Green Jersey of mountains leader by 10 points, a big lead at this point in the Giro. He's also a whopping 5' 24" up on GC over the number two guy, and over 9' up on the man in third. Basso has been so dominant in this Giro, he conjures up images of Armstrong in the 2001 and 2002 Tour de France, or Ullrich in the 1997 Tour. He can kick everybody's butt whenever he feels like it. He's scary, and if he can just keep healthy and keep his tires on the pavement, this Giro is way over.
  • Gilberto "G-Man" Simoni and Leonardo "Piccolo" Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir). Once again, it was the one-two punch of the Saunier Duval climbers who gave Basso his only real competition. Piepoli went to the front on the climb and helped bury a lot of Gibo's rivals, and then Gibo himself stuck with Basso for longer than anyone else. Simoni finished the stage in 2nd at 1' 26" and Piepoli was 3rd at 1' 37". Simoni moved up into 4th on GC, a mere 17" behind Savoldelli; Piepoli has worked himself into 16th at 18' 27". Together, these two riders have made this a truly special Giro for Saunier Duval. Tomorrow, look for these two to go on the attack again to try and get Simoni up into podium position for Milano.
  • José Enrique "Guts" Gutierrez (Phonak). Once again, Gutierrez put the hurt on most of his GC rivals and tightened his grip on 2nd place. Gutierrez crossed the line in 4th at the same time as Piepoli – 1' 37" – which kept him only 5' 24" behind Basso. Sure, he won't catch Basso now, but his lead over Savoldelli in 3rd is a fat 3' 53". If he can make it through tomorrow anywhere close to Savoldelli and Simoni, he will get the best result of his career: the 2nd spot on the podium in Milano.
  • John "Gadfly" Gadret (AG2r-Prevoyance). The French National Cyclocross Champion is making a pretty darned good transition to road racing. Today he crossed the line in 5th place, only 2' 40" behind Basso. This means he shelled guys like Cunego, Savoldelli, Di Luca, Belli, Pellizotti… the list goes on and on. Sure, he's only 32nd on GC at 31' 31" behind Basso, but this ride today took talent, and you can bet this isn't the last we hear of this intriguing Frenchman.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Damiano Cunego (Lampre). His boys did a lot of pacemaking for him, but Cunego was one of the first dropped and one of the biggest disappointments on today's big mountaintop finish. Cunego was towed across the line by his teammates in 24th, 4' 37" behind Basso. He's still in 8th on GC at 13' 55", but now it's pretty much a joke to talk about him being a threat to Basso or a rival for Simoni. This was supposed to be the year when Cunego showed he could handle of pressure of being a team leader, but all he's shown is that he can't handle life as a marked man. Still, Cunego is a very young man, and he has a lot of years of racing in front of him. He'll take his lumps, learn his lessons (one of which should be "learn to time trial"), and come back better year after year until he wins another Giro.
  • Paolo Savoldelli and Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel). The Disco squad came into this race with high hopes, especially after Savoldelli smoked everybody in that opening time trial. Alas, neither of the leaders has had particularly good form. If it wasn't for the amazing Chechu Rubiera, Savoldelli would have lost even more than the 3' 27" he gave up when he finished in 12th. Rubiera towed Savoldelli and almost helped him regain Basso's wheel: only a major acceleration by Piepoli and Simoni kept Rubiera at bay. Thanks to Chechu, Savoldelli still holds his 3rd spot on GC by a narrow 17" over Simoni. He'll need to find his climbing legs fast to hold off Simoni on that crazy uphill finish tomorrow. For his part, Danielson was one of the first men dropped on the final climb. He struggled in 7' 00" back for a dismal 38th place. Tomorrow's stage is the kind of leg-breaker that should suit a man like Danielson, but he'll have to rebound from bad legs and bad morale if he's going to take the stage.
  • Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile). In case you didn't notice, the man who is treating the Giro like a big old training ride was 30th today only 5' 27" back. This is from a man who is far from on form and who is just kinda spinning. Basso had better watch out: he'll have to bring this same form to the Tour, or big Jan will be too much to handle.
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