Category: Giro d'Italia 2005

May 29, 2005

Giro: Stage 12-20

The is one of the best grand tour races I've seen in recent memory, up there with Roberto Heras winning the 2003 Vuelta on the penultimate mountain time trail stage and Armstrong surviving against Ullrich to win his fifth Tour. Unlike those other two US Postal/Discovery Channel team victories, Savoldelli won this one without the team's big guns. Either not believing that Savoldelli would have a shot at the overall win, or wanting to save their riders for the Tour de France tune up, Discovery didn't send any climbers other than Tom Danielson (who dropped out early with knee problems) to help out. This meant that on climb after climb Savoldelli was isolated, while Basso and Simoni were well-supported. Eventually Basso would crack, but the one-two punch of Cunego and Simoni and Lampre repeatedly damaged Savoldelli's lead on the final mountain stages.

This year's Giro was about flipped expectations: * The strongest rider, Ivan Basso, cracked with a stomach ailment, after putting in an impressive performance to get the leader's jersey. * Savoldelli, who didn't come into the Giro at the top of his form, got to up his expectations on a daily basis. * A great rider that no one expected to contend for the overall, Danilo Di Luca, continued to surprise by putting in a fight for a podium finish, winning multiple stages, and otherwise carrying his Pro Tour leader's jersey well. * Reversing their roles yet again, last year's Giro winner, Damian Cunego, was once again in the role of lieutenant to two-time Giro winner Simoni.

Continue reading "Giro: Stage 12-20" »

May 20, 2005

Giro Stage 11: Marostica - Zoldo Alto

I've never posted about the Giro like I have the Tour de France or Vuelta a Espana. It usually isn't that much fun to watch Petacchi win stage after stage (nearly half the stages in 2004), but I paid the $5.95 for OLN's streaming Internet broadcast subscription and gave it a shot.

Half-way in, it's been well worth it. Nine different riders have worn the leader's jersey, the sprint finishes have been too difficult for Petacchi's team to control, and Di Luca and Bettini have been duking out a great mini-battle that ended finally with Stage 11's entrance into mighty Italian Dolomites.

stage profile

Stage 11 was the first mountain stage of the Giro and had two major climbs at the end that set the tone for the battle. The Stage 8 time trial had shown that Ivan Basso and Paolo Savoldelli were in good form, but Stage 11 really set them apart.

Basso repeatedly attacked on the second-to-last climb, winnowing down the group from twenty down to down to four. Savoldelli then attacked on the descent and managed to get a 20 second lead heading into the last climb. Basso hit the bottom of the final climb and quickly cut that lead to nothing, and from there on it was just him and Savoldelli, with Simoni occassionally hanging on. Savoldelli got the stage win by hanging on for dear life and attacking at the very end, but Basso looks the better rider. Last year's winner, Damiano Cunego, was left over 6'02" back.

Basso's strength in the Giro will be interesting come Tour time, as it will either reinforce or hurt conventional wisdom. With Armstrong perenially focusing on just one Grand Tour, a good showing by Basso in both might alter other rider's ambitions.

On a side note: the whole Internet broadcast subscription is rather strange. You're getting a raw feed, essentially, with no commentary. The only real sounds are a helicopter when you're in an overhead shot and motorcycles for the on-road shots. It's a bit eery, though it's nice not to have the constant commentator rambling. However, to compensate for the lack of commentary and low-quality of the stream (can't read rider numbers), I have to pull up a cyclingnews live report to supplement the video.

Stage 11 Summary (cycling news)