We’re in Rovetta. Paolo Savoldelli on 10 out of 10, Danilo Di Luca 9.5 out of 10. The Gazzetta gave Friday to LPR – and so they should. Stage racing at it’s best; even if Contador wins on Sunday in Milano, Di Luca can hold his head high.

Ricco gets a 9; if he can keep his feet on the ground then he must surely win a giro – but not this one:  Contador on 6.5; as Diquigiovanni’s DS, Savio told us yesterday; “Perhaps Contador will have a bad day.”

The problem for Savio, was that his contender, Gibo Simoni also had a forgettable day, dropping from third to tenth on GC and earning just 5 out of 10 from the Gazzetta – he must attack today to salvage something from this race.

Rovetta
The awesome Gavia.

As we drove down the road away from Presolana last night, we were just saying how lucky we’d been with the folks at the hotels we’d stayed in.

That was until we arrived in Selvino; the road up was an endless serious of horrible hairpins; boy racers tailed gated us up, passing on the inside of the bends; the woman in the hotel was vile and the “Irish Pub’ across the road from the hotel looked like the waiting room at Saughton. Apart from that, it was fine!

Rovetta
That snow doesn’t ever melt completely.

It’s 27 degrees at 11.00 am on Saturday morning and Dave is piloting the Matiz north. We didn’t go to the start this morning; prefering instead to book our spot early on the huge Gavia climb, where we’re going to ’embed’ for the day. Our Italian correspondent, Ale – ‘so handsome he makes you sick’ – Federico is going to the Mortirolo and between us we hope to do the stage justice.

It wasn’t maybe the stage we expected, after the “total bike racing” of yesterday, but I guess guys can’t race like that everyday.

Rovetta
Ricco and Bert.

Riccò and Bruss were both suffering from “Podium Fright Syndrome” – do you risk standing on one of those golden steps by going on the attack against Contador and his automatons, or do you play safe?

For Riccò, two stage wins and a podium is a marvellous result.

Rovetta
Bruz grabs a snack whilst putting his rainjacket on.

If Bruz can find 1-56 on Ricco tomorrow; and that’s possible, despite ‘The Cobra’s’ super-slippery new Scott Plasma, he can go second, without risking all in the mountains.

I think if Bert has his worst day, and maybe a puncture, and Bruz is ‘super’ then the big man with the ready smile can win. Let’s hope so, anyway.

Rovetta
Gibo and Bert just behind.

For Di Luca and Simoni, it’s over, at least Di Luca’s gesture was more than the token one made by Gibo today.

Rovetta
The Gavia is an amzing place.

The Gavia was a huge climb, very narrow at some points and unrelenting, the grade might vary, but the there’s only one trend – upwards!

We’ve been over so many passes that perhaps one gets a bit blasé about seeing them.

However, the descents always confirm my admiration for pros.

The road off the Gavia is in terrible condition, potholed, rutted, crumbling at the edges where melt water runs like a burn.

There are no barriers on many of the hairpins, just huge drops to angry mountain streams, way down the steep valley sides.

Rovetta
Someone’s going to be tired tonight.

On the way back to the digs, we passed a guy whose saddle had broken – sore one!

We stayed at this hotel the other day and had confirmed there was internet.

Rovetta
Geraint gets over the climb riding comfortably within himself.

So, instead of battling to the press room and back, we had the luxury of working from the hotel bedroom, with the Giro on TV – bliss!

Rovetta
Dave Millar togs up for the descent of the Gavia.

After the words and pics had flown, we went for a wee stroll and a pre dinner beer to Bar Betollini.

The owner used to race; had a pair of Pantani’s Briko shades as a treasured momento; gave us a bottle of his wife’s home made liquer to give to Navigare’s Domenico Pozzivivo in Milan; and wouldn’t let us pay for the beers – only in Italia.

Chrono tomorrow, ciao, ciao !

Rovetta
Dave befriends the officials and forresters.