It’s perhaps only fitting that on the Giro’s rest day I quickly reflect on the 3 day festival of pain and suffering the riders have just endured. Frankly, it was pretty exhausting just watching, let alone riding: long days in the saddle, lots and lots of tough climbs and dramatically different climatic conditions from start to finish. Despite some spirited opposition, Contador has a lock on the maglia rosa which only TAS can retrospectively wrest from his grasp. However, the other two podium places are still up for grabs and will be hotly contested in the coming days starting in tomorrow’s uphill time-trial.
Contador’s not the only Spaniard, or should that be Spanish speaker, with a smile on his face. Together for 17 years, 5 participations in the Giro and no wins summed up Euskaltel-Euskadi’s record before Anton’s ascent of the Zoncolan. Mind you, only a very small rider was going to be able to squeeze through those crowds. The place was positively heaving. Of course, it might easily have been Rujano, who is showing signs of a return to his 2005 form, but he was fatigued after his (gifted) win on stage 13. Fortunately, he had recovered sufficiently by Sunday to repay the favour and give Alberto a bit of a helping hand. Then, just like buses, along comes another win for Euskaltel with Mikel Nieve in the queen stage (15) atop Val di Fassa. Oh, weren’t they the team that shared the work load with Saxobank on Friday? What goes around, comes around.
Honourable mentions, IMHO, should also go to:-
- Stefano Garzelli who won the Cima Coppi (first over highest point) and a shed load of mountain points.
- Johnny Hoogerland for another of his seemingly fruitless, but nonetheless entertaining, solo escapes.
- Robert Kiserlovski for grinning and baring broken teeth to follow Martinelli’s orders, to the letter.
- John Gadret, the best placed Frenchman, in 4th place.
- Michele Scarponi for daring to attack.
- Vicenzo Nibali for his virtuoso, dare-devil descending.
Finally, I was saddened to learn of Xavier Tondo’s demise in what’s been reported as a bizarre accident with his garage door. My condolences to his family, friends and team mates.