What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro d’Italia: Rider Musings

The riders in the Giro can do more than just race their bikes, turns out they can talk too. True, the commentary is often guarded and overly modest, but sometimes it’s candid, and every once in awhile, heartfelt. PEZ has a nice selection of the real story straight from the riders – from both today’s Stage 16 and the second Rest Day.

Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole, Winner St.16):
“I am still not able to understand what I have done. I’m so happy about this victory. This victory is for the people who supported me after the terrible crash I suffered a few years ago. Somebody said that I would not be able to race anymore. I hope to be able to help Caucchioli win this Giro [note: Caucchioli has quietly ridden an excellent Giro and is currently 6th, 3.25 behind Savoldelli].”

Le Mevel got his taste of victory in St. 16, now it’s back to supporting his team leader and dark horse contender, Pietro Caucchioli.

Alessandro Vanotti (Domina Vacanze, 3rd @ 0:16):
“I would have liked to have won for my mother, who is looking down at me from the sky. One day I’ll be able to do it. I wanted to win in a nice way, but I wasn’t able to wait for the sprint. In the escape we controlled each other too much.”

Alberto Ongarato (Fassa Bortolo, 7th @ 0:50):
“Until 100 km in, we, Fassa Bortolo, tried to control the race. Savoldelli sent some riders forward to help us, but after them, we realized it just wasn’t possible, so I joined the first escape that went away, although I knew I was going to be lacking energry in the finale, because we started at full gas.”

Ivan Basso (CSC, 124th @ 22:16):
Rest Day: “I missed some luck. After a good winter where I didn’t get sick once, here I got a stomach virus at the worst possible moment. I’m not happy, but have a feeling that I can come back and win the Giro. In the final days I will try to do something good to make it look nicer.”

Today: “I’m better. I will just think about my race, without caring about the overall ranking. If I’m ok, of course I will try something.”

Will we see a performance a la Zoldo Alto from Basso in the Alps?

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi, 59th @ 22:16):
Rest Day: “I didn’t come here for the [overall] win, and it’s strange to still be competitive at this point in the Giro. I’m having a great season, and I hope to continue to be able to fight for the first positions. I won’t give up.”

Today: “I really didn’t expect to have such good condition for the last week of racing. The rest day is good not only for me, but for everybody after the hard stages of the last few days, and especially the one over the Stelvio. Tomorrow it shouldn’t be a hard stage and so we will be able to recover even more.”

Di Luca has been nothing short of amazing so far, can he keep it together, scratch that, go even better in the final days?

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita, 34th @ 22:16):
Rest Day: “I was expecting a nice Giro but it didn’t go how I wanted. It’s ok though. There was a lot of pressure on me, but this experience will help me to grow. In the overall ranking we have Simoni and I will try to help him. The important thing is that the team wins the Giro.”

Today: “My job now is to work for Simoni. If I am there, then I could also try to win a stage, but my first priority is to help our captain.”

Cunego will most likely play the noble domestique to Simoni, but if the right situation arises…

Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel, 25th @ 22:16):
Rest Day: “My opponents are Di Luca and Simoni. Di Luca is riding better at the moment, but Simoni is a man with endurance, who is always strong in the last week. It would be better if Ivan Basso was still a contender for the Giro, because he could help to control the race. It would also be nicer for the Giro as a whole. I’m really glad to go to the Tour to help Lance, because I want to have the satisfaction of riding with him (smiling). He has a strong personality. And for the future, there’s Popovych.”

A win in one of the final three crucial stages, would probably cement Savoldelli’s second Giro win.

Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas/Bianchi, out of race):
Rest Day: “As I’ve not been able to finish the Giro, I want to take part at the Tour de France, even though it wasn’t in my original program.”

Pre-Giro contender, Stefano Garzelli, injured his back in this St.7 wreck, and subsequently had to withdraw. Is a Tour start possible, or, better yet, is a competitive performance at the Tour possible?

Gilberto Simoni, unlike his seemingly humble teammate Cunego, Simoni is evidently already looking past the Giro, to the Tour. Michele Tomasi reports that Simoni would want to ride the Tour de France after winning the Giro (assuming of course that he wins the Giro). Simoni would hope to ride the Tour in “support” of Damiano Cunego – who hopes to be in top form for the Tour, and possibly contend. Lampre/Caffita DS, Saronni, did not like what he heard and said that it’s not possible to ride the Tour without planning for it over the winter. Still, it would appear that Simoni will get his way if he chooses to ride the Tour. Simoni is much too good to leave off a squad, no matter how ill-prepared – especially – if he’s serious about working for Cunego.

Those Lampre boys though, particularly Simoni, are all about the drama, no? Perhaps it’s a ploy by the sponsors to get more media attention…probably not, but it would be canny marketing.

Pez himself got up close and personal with Lampre/Caffita during yesterday’s Rest Day, you can draw your own conclusions on Simoni… Check out the latest Grappa d’Italia installment.

Simoni sits dangerously close in 3rd, 1.48 behind Savoldelli, a spectacular ride on the penultimate stage could nab Simoni his third overall Giro title.

Rider Comments courtesy of PEZ Correspondent, Michele Tomasi – grazie.

Don’t miss the conclusion to the 2005 Giro d’Italia, which up to this point, has been nothing less than a perfectly scripted drama. For tomorrow’s summit finish in Limone Piemonte and Friday’s crucial time trial, check out OLN’s Streaming Coverage from 8:20 am to 11:30 EDT tomorrow, and 9:00 am to 11:30 EDT on Friday. Missing that audio experience? Check out Eurosport for free, live streaming audio for all of the stages.

For more fun, head to www.JeredGruber.com

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