Salvodelli Confirms, Mario Wins Again: Giro Final Report
Salvodelli Confirms, Mario Wins Again: Giro Stage20
The 85th Giro d’Italia finished today in Milan with the traditional victory ride and bunch sprint in front of thousands of screaming tifosi in Parco Sempione.
The day was won by Super Mario (Acqua & Sapone), who beat recent rival Allessandro Petacchi (Fassa), and who has been collecting stage wins like mad over the past 3 weeks, earning himself 40 career stage victories in the Giro, now only 1 short of the Alfredo Binda’s all time record.
But the most interesting story has been the battle for the pink jersey, which played out more like cycling’s version of “Survivor”, as one after the next , the leaders and challengers left the race in various forms of disgrace. What started as another dark and depressing story in the life of our favorite sport gradually transformed into a real race between cyclings’ next generation of heros – riders who appear for the moment at least, to be “clean”.
Paolo Salvodelli (index-Alexia) took his first win in a major tour and showed his real talents when the going got tough over the last week of the race. Making his decisive move on Thursday’s last day in the high mountains, he attacked and dropped all his rivals on the last climb. No one expected a great time trial from him on Saturday, and indeed many observers felt he would lose the race, but he confirmed is value as team leader and worthiness of the maglia rosa by finishing 3rd on the stage and beating Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) by 14 seconds.
Tyler Hamilton though, really stepped up to the plate and swung the big wood. Here’s a guy who for years rode in Armstrong’s shadow, who clearly had talent but never was allowed to use it for his own purposes. Year after year we watched him crash in the Tour, and then 3 times in the opening stages of this Giro, and it appeared the challenges of leading his own team were simply too much. For sure he was feeling the pressure of finally being given the chance (by Bjarne Riis) to ride his own race, but even more pressure from us fans who silently watched, wondered, and hoped if he could fly outside the USPS nest. What a thrill it was to watch him win that TT, stay on his bike, and join the elite group of “protagonisti” of this grand Tour. And what a thrill it is to think that maybe this will be the year someone seriously challenge Armstrong in July.
Thanks for renewing our hope Tyler, and congrats on reaching the podium!
Cadel Evans is worthy of note, especially as he showed us his real depth of character to ride himself into the pink jersey, then blow so horribly, but never give up. And how can you not love the fact the he came from the mtb world!
Then the others – Garzelli, Simoni Casagrande and the rest. Who knows what motivates these guys, but I find it interesting that the Giro seems to be the race of continuing drug problems and scandals – is the pressure to win this national tour so intense that riders are really willing to risk it all and resort to cheating for victory? Is it a cultural mindset that some of us just don’t get? Come on you guys, you deserve to treat yourselves better, and our sport deserves better.
So another great journey comes to an end, leaving the riders, and us fans just enough time to recover so we can all perform and watch with even greater interest when the chase for the maillot jaune gets underway in July.
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Giro Overall – Final Podium
1. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita-(Ina)
2. Tyler Hamilton (Usa-Cst)
3. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita-Als)