Giro Di PEZ: Gilbert Saves The Giro

Roadside St.20: The Rough Guide to Italy says of Naples; ‘it is filthy, it is very large and overbearing; it is crime infested and most definitely like nowhere else in Italy.’ One team DS told us; ‘this is not Italy!’

The traffic is mad and the view from our dig’s window reminded me of that old saying; ‘it might look all right, when it’s finished!’

It was nice enough down on the sea front, though and it’s always an uplifting experience to bump into a legend; I address Felice Gimondi as ‘Signor Gimondi’ it doesn’t seem right to use a God’s first name.

And there was Mario, chest (we have our suspicions that he shaves it) on show, despite the cool breeze from the Gulf of Naples.

The mechanics were ferrying bikes around as The Bibione Dolphin (we’re not sure about that nickname!) and Ivan Basso pedalled past – separately!

Ivan did have a smile for Pez, though.

Gilberto Simoni has looked a bit weary on this Giro, the Gazzetta has been giving him a hard time, but he’s nearly 38 maybe it’s one Giro too many?

Our ‘sound bites’ went well, but we were disappointed no to get a minute or two with our chum Savio from Diquigiovanni; he always has quotable quotes but it was roll out time and he had to saddle up.

We Pez’d former Olympic Madison champion, Scott McGrory earlier in this Giro and the result will be up soon, he works with the Australian Fox Sports TV network now and he insisted upon an interview with Dave – I was hurt!

We said “ciao” to Napoli and Vesuvio and with no little sense of relief pointed the Peugeot at the Autostrada and the road north to Anagni.

After the insanity of Naples, it was good to be back on quiet roads in open country, we didn’t get a chance to explore Anagni, but what we saw, we liked.

We picked a spot in the shade and settled down to wait; it was a good finish, with an 18 kilometre circuit, so we could see the race twice. It was also a tough one, with a two kilometre drag all the way to the line. There were the usual distractions to pass the time as we waited for the riders.

With one lap to go, Ale Jet was well to the fore and we thought that maybe it would be his day, next time round?

Brad Wiggins was stone last in the group, but his mind would probably have been on Sunday’s chrono.

Some of the Rabobank guys had already clocked off for the day, the strain of defending a pink jersey telling on young men like Jos Van Emden; last year he was winning races for Rabobank Continental in races like the Tour of Normandie – but in 2009 it’s the Big League.

Ian Stannard looked good though, he told us the other day that Blockhaus wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be – that’s a good sign.

As we waited on the second circuit, we were miffed that the stand opposite was empty and we couldn’t blag our way in.

With a 45 kph stage average, we didn’t have to wait long on the race – and there was a Silence-Lotto; there’s only one man in the team that could be. Philippe Gilbert – by this time last year, he’d notched four of his seven wins for the season; it’s been a long time coming, but with just a couple of minutes effort this afternoon he’s put his career back on track and saved Silence-Lotto’s Giro.

Thomas Voeckler didn’t quite manage to do the same for Bouygues; this would have been a nice fifth win of the season for him. ‘Popo’ tried hard too, but was swamped.

It was that man Sastre driving the bunch home; what a difference a year makes – I said that Carlos’s 2008 Tour win was a one off, after the displays he’s given in this race, I’m not so sure.

Lance wasn’t sweating; it was interesting talking to Alain Gallopin today, Levi was an after thought and Alberto didn’t get a mention – there’s no doubt that ‘Lance is still the man!’ at Astana.

There were groups all over the place, Liquigas is another outfit feeling the strain; it’s bad enough having one boss, but two?

Danny Pate eased home, he’s probably still thinking about Scarponi grabbing his glory in Benevento, the other day.

Alessandro Spezialetti’s eyes told a story of early sprint train work for Ale then day after day of tempo for Danilo – he’ll be glad to finish that chrono tomorrow.

Another day, another tappa and tomorrow it’s Roma – The Eternal City.

“Anywhere; as long as it’s not Naples!” says Dave.

Ciao, ciao!

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