‘Mission accomplished’ with Ryder: Dave rattled us through dire weather up to the Garmin Hotel, just over 100 miles away.
The Liquigas guys were on their turbos when we arrived – lean, cut looking men.
Before the start, I wasn’t sure Basso could win, but his policy of loss limiting has taken him to third on GC @ 1:22 on Rodriguez and 52 seconds behind Hesjedal.
The only thing we would observe is that his squad commits sometimes when it doesn’t seem necessary.
But as Ryder’s says; ‘I’ve no problem with them taking the initiative – even if sometimes it seems as if they don’t need to!’
Basso seems very tranquil, smiling his way through interviews and never seeming to get flustered.
He was relaxed for us, giving us a nod and a smile as we took a few snaps.
He had this to say in the Liquigas press release;
“My team and I want to win this Giro d’Italia and we’ll do everything we can to succeed.
“If that doesn’t happen, it will be because someone else was stronger and deserved to win and not because we failed.
“We’ll have a clear conscience knowing that we gave it 100%: we want to race with no regrets and with the certainty that no one can reproach us at all.
“We’ve worked on this goal for months with our preparations and scheduling, not just me but the whole team of riders and staff: no one will be able to say we didn’t try everything.”
On the subject of other GC guys; Schleck has gone.
When I did the Giro contenders preview I had to include him – but this season has seen him and his brother fail to impress at any stage.
But more importantly, it’s apparent that The Shack is not a happy ship.
As we walked past Johan Bruyneel at the bus park yesterday, we heard him say;
“I’m OK, the equipment is OK – it’s the riders that are not so good!’‘
The Gazzetta today says that Frank’s abandoning may well have closed the door on his Tour de France ride and there’ll be a ‘divorzio‘ at the end of the year.
The Gazzetta doesn’t mince words and another rider who gets a lashing is Pozzovivo, who ‘failed his exam’ at the finish, yesterday.
Rodriguez continues to surprise, everyone is waiting for the ‘jour sans’ but so far he’s looking very impressive.
The wee Catalan is riding on great morale, loving his spells in pink and it would be foolish to say he’s not a serious podium contender.
Tiralongo, in fourth spot looks like fitness incarnate – every sinew showing, the colour of teak.
A podium place would not surprise.
He’s above team mate Kreuziger, who’s fifth – and branded ‘timid’ by the Gazzetta.
Kreuziger’s build up looked near perfect to us but he doesn’t look like a winner so far.
Scarponi is as tough as old boots and looks almost as wiry as Tiralongo – we had him down as winner before the race and he’s sure to be in the final mix in the Dolomites.
If Gadret has got his preparation – and head – right, he should entire the picture when the race enters that mountain range.
A couple of years ago he rode a stunning Dolomiti campaign until he crashed out – and remember that he won a stage, last year.
Sky’s two young Columbian climber’s – white jerseyed Henao and big haired Uran – impress; especially given they’ve been dragged in to the service of Cav when required.
But back to Hesjedal, as with Rodriguez, we’ve been waiting on the bad day.
With a revised build up to the race, sky high morale and a good team around him he’s very calm and confident.
Before the race I wouldn’t have said he was a possible for the podium.
He’s forced me to change that opinion.
He’s an easy guy to interview, thoughtful and soft spoken – and with not a trace of ‘attitude.’
We also had a chance to chat to Alex Rasmussen, he’s looking great.
But was disappointed he didn’t get the opportunity to for a pedal round nearby Lake Garda – the weather was just too nasty.
He’s happy with is form and looking forward to using his Giro ‘core’ at the London Olympic team pursuit.
His big goal for this Giro is the last time trial; he was second, last year, beaten by David Millar – who’s now his team mate.
But reaching for my cliché handbook; ‘all too soon, it was time to go.’
We just couldn’t spin the Giro out any longer.
But we’ll continue to give the VeloVeritas view ’til the bitter end in Milano, on Sunday.
Ciao, and grazie for reading.