Rain Sicilian roads made for a slick crash filled stage. The processional pace must have been a result of the crashes and recovery from the previous two stages. Passing from Catania to Messina there were many crashes highlighting the Giro coverage. Bradley McGee is the latest early exit from a nasty crash. That is two TT expert racers in two days.
Meanwhile Liquigas had a busy day controlling the tempo as team of race leader Franco Pellizotti and later on setting a high pace for the aspiring Sprint King Daniele Bennati. Benna
Vincenzo Nibali made a brief flyer to make the locals happy. The Sicilian cyclist riding on home roads got some cheers as he attacked 9 km from the finish. The Nibali attack which was more for show since he is a hometown kid, helped to setup the Liquigas train for Bennati.
The Liquigas train will never be mistaken for Petacchi’s Milram trains since attacks were able to get off the front and only a few Liquigas men were able to stay at the front. The front was a mix of Milram, High Road and other teams. Bennati was on Zabel’s wheels and other Milram riders. Going into the final 500 meters Bennati used the Milram train meant for Zabel to launch his final attack. Zabel was well placed but could not get around Bennati.
FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Filippo Pozzato took a very fast sprint finish into Autun on Stage 5 of the Tour de France. The final slightly uphill finish was so fast that speeds reached up to 50mph. That is some fast turning of the pedals.
The stage was being billed as a hilly challenge that would disrupt the sprinteres and possibly change the Yellow Jersey. The long break that included new Polka Dot wearer Sylvain Chavanel helped to keep things together for most of the race. With sprinteres getting shelled in the final climbs to the finish a select group of the peloton roared in for the finish. Pozzato and other “climbing” sprinters were gunning for the finish including Oscar Friere and Alessandro Ballan. This is the second stage win for the Italian who moved out of the shadow of Tom Boonen at Quick Step.
(DiLuca is ticked at Gasparotto: AP Photo)
When you hear Italian cyclist speak they always talk about being calm or serene in their racing or training. It is almost like they are talking about going to a spa instead of an intense bike race. This is particularly interesting since Italians are know for their hot tempers. Up until this year Danilo DiLuca has been the poster for for serene cyclist. The Abruzzese cyclist really did not show his emotions that much until his win at Liege and the Liquigas Team Time Trial victory at the Giro.
The picture above is probably what each of the cyclist were thinking at the moment. Enrico Gasparotto forgot that Danilo was supposed to go over the line first. DiLuca was well aware of the error and looks to be screaming at the top of his lungs. One can only imagine the conversation between these two on the team bus.
FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Danilo DiLuca has been looking very ticked lately. He made it to the podium, third place to be exact for the Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallone. The Killer of Spoltore usually does not seem to be the groggy angry type. He usually seems friendlier. Perhaps it is frustration that he did not take the top spot in the races that he dominated just two seasons ago. DiLuca had a dream season in 2005 where he won Amstel and Fleche and followed that up with a fourth place in an epic Giro D’Italia. 2006 saw Diluca struggle to find the same magic.
(pic from Yahoo! News)
Another exciting Paris-Nice is in the books. This one was particularly eventful with several lead changes and a dramatic last day stage win that sealed the overall victory by the latest “Next Indurain” of the Spanish peloton. In fact Paris-Nice saw two potential “Next Indurains” with Luis Leon Sanchez getting the moniker after his stage 6 win where he duped his former teammate Contador by going on a late attack that was ordered by his team management.
Both Sanchez and Contador came from the Liberty Seguros meltdown of 2006. Manolo Saiz must be waking up in a cold “Vega Vega Vega” for not being able to manage these two up-and-coming stars. If he only had someone else carry the bags of blood we wouldn’t be in this mess and these guys would both be riding for Saiz.
Filippo Pozzato’s switch from the talent laden Quick-Step team to the Liquigas team for 2007 was a sign that the 25 year old Italian was ready to be his own man in the Classics. The winner of Milan San-Remo in 2006 was a new talent in a talent rich team twhose goals all seemed to mirror his own. How can you try to win MIlan San Remo on a team win Paolo Bettini and win the Tour of Flanders on a team with Tom Boonen? Pozzato accomplished the first task by being in the right place on the Via Roma and attacking at the right time. Now he is on a new team and is the captain for the Classics such as Paris-Roubaix, and the Tour of Flanders. Pozzato’s win in the junior version of the Tour of Flanders came Saturday as he took the win from the fading O’Grady and Flecha. Once again he is in the right place at the right time.
(pic from http://www.team-csc.com/)
Ivan Basso and Bjarne Riis are no longer working together. The fallout from the Operation Puerto scandal has tarnished the relationship between Riis and rising star Basso. The close working relationship took a severe blow when allegations arose over Ivan Basso’s involvement with Dr. Fuentes who is at the picenter of the Operation Puerto situation. Basso was cleared of any involvement in the Operation Puerto case due to lack of evidence. However, the case could still be revisited if new evidence became available.
“After all that has happened, especially this summer, Team CSC and Ivan Basso have agreed to part ways. It has been a very difficult decision, but both parties agree it is time to move on. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Ivan for his time with the team and for the great results he and the team have achieved together. At the same time, we wish him all the best for the future,” says Bjarne Riis. — http://www.team-csc.com/ny_news.asp?n_id=1116
Basso also needed to prove to Bjarne Riis that he was not involved with Dr. Fuentes. Riis wanted extra hard evidence which involved Basso taking a DNA test which could be tested against the bags of blood found in Dr. Fuentes lab. Ivan Basso refused to take a DNA test under advice from his lawyer. The reasoning was that the blood bags found as evidence may have not been stored properly and could provide dubious results. This refusal was probably the detail that led to the split between Riis and Basso. For Riis this split is completely understandable since Basso is damaged goods. It would be hard to get new sponsors on board with Ivan Basso having questions and allegations surrounding him over the Operation Puerto scandal. What if new evidence were to arise next June? That seems to be the time of year that cycling related drug investigation get publicity. The team would find itself in the same situation as this year.
(read more on this article)
The Italian one day races in August are a chance for top Italians to show off their form to Franco Ballerini in order to get a spot on the coveted Azzurri squad for the World Championships road race. This year Stefano Garzelli has been one of the more dominat riders in these one day races. Garzelli chalked up another win in the Trofeo Melinda. He beat out Giovanni Visconti and Siclian Santo Anza of Selle Italia. This win would probably wrap up Garzelli’s selection for the Salzburg worlds.
Garzelli may be joined by the resurgent Danil DiLuca who is not aiming for a high placing in the Vuelta even though he took the race by the scruff of the neck yesterday. Diluca is always coy about his intentions when he is on form. This may be another Giro 05 situation where DiLuca keeps playing down his chances while going for a high GC finish.
(Pic from Yahoo! News)
Third Grand Tour is a charm for Danilo DiLuca. After much promise for a great performance in the Giro and the Tour de France Danilo DiLuca came up short. Illness and bad form made DiLuca’s attempt to improve on his 2005 magical year impossible. Today “The Killer” took control in the Vuelta’s first mountain top stage finish.
DiLuca showed great climbing form as most of the favorites lost time to the little Italian. Sastre, Valverde and Danielson lost up to a minute. Damielson did not look very strong as he was bested by teamates Beltran and Janez Brajkovic.
Of course it is still very early so anything can happen int eh Vuelta, but for now at least DiLuca looks to have some confidence back.
This month also looks to be a good month for Liquigas. With Garzelli and Nibali winning races, DiLuca has added to a month of good results for the Leeky-gas squad.
Stefano Garzelli seems to be the default Tour contender on a team that is mostly focusing on the Giro D’Italia. Last year Garzelli and Cioni were supposed to be the main Liquigas antagonist for G.C. but Danilo DiLuca’s surprising and inspired performance put Cioni and Garzelli into a supporting role.
This year with DiLuca looking to win the Giro, Garzelli is aiming to perform well at the Tour de France by skipping the Giro and putting all of his training efforts to performing well in France. Although he has never placed very high in France, Garzelli is highly motivated by the arrival of his new baby. “I have a new motivation this year part to go much faster. Because of this I have more calmness and tranquility”
On the subject of DiLuca’s Giro chances Garzelli think’s Danilo has a chance. “Maybe the course is too tough for his abilities, but for me that is an exaggeration. Diluca showed last year that he could ride well in very tough climbs after performaning well in the spring classics. This year he will focus entirely on the Giro. By saving his energy for the Giro, he will be one of the main protagonist with a chance to win the race that he holds close to his heart.”