Giro di PEZ: It’s Good To Talk
Roadside St.11: ‘It’s good to talk,’ the advertising campaign for British Telecom used to say. With that in mind, before the Assisi roll out we grabbed hold of the DS’s of the red and pink jerseys to get their take on the race so far.
GreenEdge’s Matt White is the man behind Matt Goss’s grip on rosso.
‘We’ve had a great start, the objective was to win a stage, and we’ve done that.
Now, we’re taking defending the jersey day by day.
Matt’s recovered from that crash in Frosinone; Pippo rode into him, but I heard that Pippo said that Kristoff rode into him . . .
The team time trial was a little disappointing for us in terms of where we finished, but we were only seconds away from third spot.
I’m a little surprised at how savagely the race has started.
Rodriguez is the strongest rider in the race just now, but the usual suspects – Basso, Scarponi and Kreuziger have all been low key.
Garmin set themselves the object of getting the jersey and holding on to it – and they certainly did that.
But the last week is very hard and that’s when it’ll be decided.
I think that Pozzovivo will be a strong contender, given the way he’s riding and that the last time trial is relatively short.
However, as far as we’re concerned, we brought a young team here and I’m happy with how they’ve gelled and how they’re riding.’
Valerio Piva is the man in the Katusha car; we started by asking him if Rodriguez could sustain his frantic pace?
‘That’s a good question!
In the past, perhaps not.
We’re not expecting overall victory but a podium is or secondary objective and failing that, a top ten.
But for now we have a victory and the maglia rosa – it’s better to come away from the race with that, than to sit and wait and perhaps come away from the race with nothing.
The jersey and stage win give morale to the team and to Joaquin.
The big favourites have still to show and I think it is an open Giro – but we’ll just take it day by day.
Joaquin is a specialist on the short, steep climbs but in the last week it will be longer climbs where Basso and Scarponi will be to the fore.
You must remember that they have both won the Giro and have great experience.
But we have good riders around Joaquin and we have 40 or 50 seconds on the favourites, so it’s up to them to attack us.’
We asked Valerio how he was finding thing at Katusha, after his tenure with HTC.
‘It’s an international squad, we have riders from Spain, Russia, Norway, Latvia . .
It was like that at High Road and most of the big Pro Tour teams are the same.
What I have tried to bring to this squad is the importance of the group – the staff, the riders all believing in the team and having pride in the team.
Yesterday was a good example, the whole team worked towards Joaquin’s victory.’
It’s a good job we spoke to Matt and Valerio because there was precious little to write about for the first 50 K of the race’s longest stage, 255 K.
Industrial estates, urban sprawl, bad road surfaces, torrential rain – and not a photo op. in sight.
But we did work the bus park, a little before we dashed – Alex Rasmussen, Cav’s baby, the Sky ‘line,’ Daryl Impey, the maglia rosa, Basso . .
When we eventually crossed in to Tuscany things began to look up as we entered rural Italia – and the sun came out.
Arezzo and there’s a PEZ reunion; Jered and Ashley fly past – time for smiles and cuddles.
No smiles just a little along the road, as Dave and I visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery.
In 1943, Mussolini’s Fascist regime collapsed, an armistice was signed and many Italians began to fight on the Allied side.
American, British and Commonwealth forces landed in Sicily and Anzio.
The Germans sent divisions south to meet the Allied forces and savage fighting ensued.
Some 1267 souls rest in the Arezzo cemetery, from as far afield as India – this countryside wasn’t always so idyllic.
The percorso isn’t too tough, nor is it that scenic – lots of urban stretches and none of that soft, rolling Tuscan countryside we love.
Dave reckons it’s because they’re trying to take the race through as many towns as possible.
And if you got dropped on the cat 4 GPM Poggio alla Croce, just to cheer you up on the descent is the 100 K to go sign.
Time to check what the Gazzetta has to say about yesterday.
Rodriguez gets 9.5/10, Visconti 8, Cataldo and Caruso 7.5, Pozzovivo 6.5 and Schleck a lowly 5 for dropping 26 seconds.
They also have a feature on Cipo and his 42 Giro stage wins, they read like this: 1989/1: ’90/2: ’91/3: ’92/4: ’95/2: ’96/4: ’97/5: ’98/4: ’99/4: 00/1: 01/4: ’02/6: ’03/2.
With his last win at Montecatini – where today’s stage finishes- you have to agree that the man wasn’t a bad sprinter.
He says his most beautiful stage win came in 1995 when his victory gave him the maglia rosa.
His tip for the Giro victory ?
Inside 75 K to go banner the countryside becomes much more photogenic.
But as Viktor says; ‘you’re supposed to be a cycling journalist, not a travel writer !’
Al’s keeping us in the picture and it’s looking like ‘compatto’ when it hits the 14 kilometre finishing circuit – unless it splits on the 4th cat. climb.
But even then, there are 11 K to get any escapees back.
The PezPlan is to drive the finishing circuit, find a bar and hole up – but the circuit is locked down, tight.
We find a bar in the finishing straight with a TV and settle down with a beer to wait.
The break’s end is nigh with 30 K to go – but Boaro resists.
Pay for the beer – rush out.
Boaro is clear but Movistar and Sky chase hard for Ventoso and Cav.
Saxo are right behind and slow it isn’t.
Rodriguez is safe.
Alex Rasmussen isn’t.
His gear has contrived to wrap back into the cassette – he ‘scoots’ his Cervelo along as he waits for the team car and a fresh bike.
And as fast as they got here, they’ve gone.
There are no non-race vehicles allowed on the circuit, so the T-shirt guys take to street pedalling their wares – respect.
Kennaugh leads, Geraint is there too for Cav – Ferrari is right there.
Modolo is there, but it’ll end badly for him.
They stream past – back into the bar, but not before we see Frank Schleck slip even further down the standings.
From villain to hero inside a week – and there was Vik saying the Italian wasn’t a proper sprinter . . . .
a domani !