CyclingRevealed's Giro '07 Perspective
Tappa 6, May 18th, Tivoli to Spoleto, 177 km
Good and Evil
As we enjoy the spectacle of the Giro the Floyd Landis hearing is taking place in the U.S.A. Yesterday the hearing took a surreal turn when Greg LeMond (three time TdF winner) took the stand as a witness. Landis of course is defending himself against accusations of using testosterone to help him win last years Tour. LeMond shocked the court when he started to talk about claims that he was sexually abused as a child. Whatever did this have to do about Landis and drugs in sport? Apparently LeMond and Landis had spoken at length last August and after LeMond had told his story (which he had always kept secret until that point). LeMond advised Landis to admit wrong doing if he in fact had taken drugs for the Tour. The rationale was that suppressing a serious secret (like taking drugs at the Tour) is a very terrible thing to live with as the years pass by. It would appear that sometime after this conversation Landis revealed LeMond's secret to his business manager Will Geoghegan. Unknown to Landis Geoghegan called LeMond on the eve of his appearance at the Landis trial and posed as an uncle making threats about his much troubled childhood. Naturally LeMond was seriously rattled, called the police and they in turn traced the call to Geoghegan. The Landis defense lawyer immediately announced that Geoghegan was as of that moment released from Floyd's services. Such goings on were worthy of any TV court drama.
The case continues today. Apparently Eddy Merckx had been invited as a witness to the trial but he has stated that he clearly knows nothing of the case and can add no value to the proceedings. He is doing well by avoiding the whole sordid affair.
So while both the Landis case and the Operacion Puerto affair continue to drag up disturbing and evil facts, the Giro rolls majestically on. Judging by the intense race coverage and very large enthusiastic road side crowds it is wonderful to see that the good characteristics of cycling continue to triumph over the evil.
Today the stage left from the eastern suburbs of Rome to take on a challenging route with three categorized climbs. With the really serious racing still on the horizon Di Luca's morning comments indicated that he would be happy to relinquish the Pink Jersey to a ‘non-threat' rider. Such a strategy would relieve his Liquigas team from having to chase down any breaks containing riders with no chance of winning the Giro overall.
Typical scene on the road to Spoleto. A small hill top town near the Cat1 Monte Terminillo
All day the race was bathed in sun as it rolled over hills and mountains sporting intense spring greenery and populated by frequent castles, monasteries and ancient compact hill top towns. Festive and supportive crowds lined the route to cheer on their heroes. Life is certainly good at the Giro today.
With the strategy of Liquigas (and probably that of all the other leading GC contenders) for the day's stage made public, the stage was set for the opportunists to take advantage. Frequent early attacks were soon nullified and it was not until about the 65kms point that a break finally managed to establish itself. The now obligatory Tinkoff rider was there (this time Daniele Contrini, 143rd at 18:05) along with Hubert Schwab, Quick Step-Innergetic (68th at 4:53), Laverde Jimenez Luis Felipe, Ceramica Panaria - Navigare (83rd at 8:06), Christophe Kern, Credit Agricole, (137th at 17:00) and Marco Pinotti, T-Mobile, (44th at 3:11). This group quickly solidified its advantage and reached the base of the first climb (Monte Terminillo, Cat1, 21kms at 6.6%) with about 2m 30s advantage. At the summit their lead had grown to 6m 18s. Liquigas were true to their word; they were setting tempo but not chasing, with a compact bunch happily cruising along behind them.
At 120kms the break topped the Cat3 Forca Capistrello climb as Liquigas were starting to up the tempo. The gap however had now grown to 7m 22s. The break hit the final climb of the day, the Cat 2 Forca di Cerro, now confident in taking the days spoils as the finish was only 17 kms from the summit. On the way up Laverde attacked and only Pinotti could go with him. Over the top the two leaders had 32 seconds on Kern and Schwab. It was now up to the two leaders to work together. With the bunch at 7m 14s Pinotti was heading for the Maglia Rosa while Laverde had already laid claim to the green Climber's Jersey.
New Race Leader rewards breakaway partner ( Image © La Gazetta )
New Race Leader Marco Penotti ( Image © La Gazetta )
Pinotti had suffered mightily to stay with his talented climbing companion but now on the run in to Spoleto the time trialist Pinotti put his head down to create as much of a time gap as possible between himself and Di Luca. With the ‘crown jewel' assured Pinotti did not contest the finish and Laverde rolled over the line with a well deserved stage win together with the Green Jersey as an added bonus. The bunch sprinted in over seven minutes later which now puts Di Luca at 4m 12s, and third on GC, behind a very happy Pinotti.
Many disparaging remarks are made against the UCI, WADA and other agencies fighting drugs in sport. Regardless they continue their work. Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and certainly many others are being unmasked and their evil, cheating ways are being exposed. Landis is hanging on to his Tour win by a thread and Operacion Puerto is poised to expose many other cheats. Surely not only the Pro Tour riders, but all competitive cyclists must be getting the message and it should be incumbent on them and their teams to divine the difference between good and evil.
Tomorrow: A long flat stage that proceeds due north from Spoleto. Stage 7, Spoleto–Scarperia is 254 km and ends on the famous Formula 1 Mugello motor track. Check back here for our report.
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