CyclingRevealed's Giro Perspective
Tappa 8, May 14th, Civitanova Marche to Maielletta-Passo Lanciano, 171 km
Wish You Were Here
Vacationers along the Adriatic coast send home postcards to friends and family saying “wish you were here.” Many of the weary riders today were probably wondering “why am I here!”
For the first 100km or so the race passed along the spectacular Abruzzo region coast road. With the sparkling blue waters of the Adriatic to their left and the Abruzzo mountain range to their right, the racers had little time to enjoy this vacation mecca. Had the race stayed on the coast then this would have been one long, flat sprinters stage. Instead the route turned its back on the sea and headed straight for the 25km climb up the Passo Lanciano to the ski station just below Block Haus mountain.
With seven stages behind them we are starting to see an emerging pattern. Although Ivan Basso is still widely touted as the big favorite it is clear that Paolo Savoldelli is a real threat. Discovery's great DS Johan Bruyneel has obviously been working with Savoldelli on his time trialing and climbing. Thus far in this years Giro Savoldelli has outgunned Basso at crunch times. The most obvious example was the first stage time trial which Savoldelli won in commanding style, not only over Basso, but the entire field. Through the next stages the very able Discovery team guided Savoldelli as he rides with alarming ease. Yesterday was an extremely hard stage and yet again with respect to all the race GC favorites Savoldelli came out top dog with a fine second place and a handful of bonus seconds to go with it.
Although Basso's CSC team won the team time trial, the team classification after stage 7 indicates that Discovery is consistently the strongest team as they lead the team classification.
With these thoughts in mind today's very hard finish was a perfect stage for yet another showdown. We were not disappointed with the final climb packed with truly exciting racing. With about 12km to go, and with the shattered bunch spread all over the road behind them, the heads of state got down to serious business. The pink jersey of Gonchar was dropped while shockingly Salvoldelli could not hold the pace. Simoni and Di Luca, with their faces a mask of agony, were just able to hang on. Then the little Venezuelan climber Rujano made his first big effort. He was reeled in by Cunego who in turn was counter-attached by Basso.
Basso counter-attacks alone [ Image ©: www.gazzetta.it ]
That was it, as Basso rode majestically to the finish and simply destroyed the other favorites behind him. Cunego managed second place 30 seconds back while Savoldelli limped in, and looking somewhat shell-shocked, at 2'20".
Basso climbs to the stage win [ Image ©: www.gazzetta.it ]
The GC is now taking on a very solid appearance with Basso looking unshakable as the new race leader. Cunego is third just behind second placed Gutierrez (Phonak) 1'48" back. Savoldelli is fourth at 2' 35", Gonchar is now 5th, Di Luca 6th and Simoni 7th now 3'20" down. Tom Danielson is now on 9th GC and rode an extremely impressive race today as he paced his team leader (Savoldelli) up the final kms to the finish to try and limit the damage.
New race leader Ivan Basso [ Image ©: www.gazzetta.it ]
Compared to the somewhat sterile Tour de France of recent years where the GC was controlled with an iron fist, the Giro is again developing into a colorful event with the GC always an interesting scrap until the final day. Basso leads now but don't count out the others yet.
Normally we watch the race on TV or streaming video channels with well informed English language commentary. Attacks and other incidents are relayed in measured tones and cool professionalism. Even if you do not speak Italian check out RAI TV's live streaming video coverage. In true Italian style the commentary is highly animated and real entertainment of itself. When Cunego made his bid for glory today the commentators exploded in sheer excitement. In fact every aggressive move is honored in such entertaining fashion. This is “dolce vita” Giro style. “Wish you were here.”
Tomorrow: the Giro continues its southern journey along the Adriatic coast as it heads to the coastal resort of Termoli having covered 147kms from the start in Francavilla al Mare. After traveling in the ‘gruppeto' for the past couple of days Robbie McEwen should be heading the final charge in to town. Check back for our report.
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