Nacer Bouhanni is impressive; he was on the limit to get over the little rise on the run in – where Sky did a lot of damage to a lot of people, unfortunately including their own sprinter, Ben Swift who just scraped in to the top ten – but the wiry French fast man was right where he had to be for the finale.
Whilst he doesn’t have a ‘train’ a la Cav or Kittel, he does have some very committed men around him, not least Sebastien Chavanel who did sterling work for his boss in those demented closing kilometres.
Particularly in keeping Bouhanni ahead of the big crash on the final bend when Garmin’s Tyler Farrar touched a wheel.
It was big Albert Timmer who launched for Giant with Nizzolo taking it up for Trek; but Bouhanni has a jump as well as a being able to win a drag race and it was win number three for the F des J man.
With Demare on a rampage in Dunkerque and Picardie it’s be hard for things to be going much better for Marc Madiot’s boys – even a couple of years ago this level of success would be something the French teams could only dream about.
Michael Matthews dug deep to take third and respect has to go the young Australian who now goes home to lick his wounds after the biggest week of his career.
As we’ve said on numerous occasions; huge respect must go to GreenEDGE for their achievements in this race.
It was a day where the break was never going to survive but Messrs. Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocatolli) and Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) picked up the poisoned chalice to get the best of the sun and mop up a lot of that precious TV time.
As Androni manager, Gianni Savio always says; ‘you must honour the pink race!’
Their lead went up towards nine minutes but when it came to pegging back the last of those four minutes as the finish approached the peloton took back what looked like a minute per kilometre – frightening.
The positioning fights started a long ways out – with 10 kilometres to go it looked as if they were inside the red kite. Evans in particular marshalled his troops very early and BMC were in there vying with Giant and Sky; and also QuickStep who had the same idea as BMC – keep team leader Uran out of trouble.
The wisdom of their efforts was proved when Farrar touched that wheel and in a second there was a huge pile of men and bikes on the entrance to the final right hander.
Bouhanni’s two index fingers pointing at his own head was a new one, although it could be interpreted as; ‘and it’s only gonna get bigger, folks!’
But here at VeloVeritas we cut the sprinters some slack; they’re allowed to have daft haircuts, loud casual gear, OTT paint jobs and make pronouncements which they’ll regret later.
It’s all to do with those fast twitch muscles, adrenalin and testosterone. But please Nacer, no Mike Tyson/David Clinger facial tattoos; we couldn’t cope with that.
We tracked down the Gazzetta dello Sport these last two days – they’re days late here in Edinburgh but it’s always good to have that pink paper in your hand albeit it’s a different edition from the Italian one – smaller, less pages and less colour. The first one has pictures of the Cassino stage crash – it really was nasty when you look back at it.
The second one covers Ulissi’s second stage win – the Gazzetta likes Diego; well to the fore on the cover and 9.5 on their stage rating. He takes the stage victory as a ‘young one’ whilst Evans takes the maglia rosa as an ‘old one.’
Pozzovivo may be in fourth spot on GC in this Giro but at 31 he’s hardly Italy’s, ‘hope for the future.’
Ulissi on the other hand is only 24 years-old and with two stage wins already is a great white hope – if he can keep his feet on the ground.
The Italian, Belgian and especially French Press have a history of ‘bigging up’ riders who perform well at an early stage in their career in a Grand Tour.
The pressure builds, they under perform then the same media chops them into pieces.
All that said, the Italians desperately new heroes; Cunego’s best days have gone and we have to admit the same about Pippo, Scarponi and Basso Nibali does a good job but he’s head and shoulders above the rest and needs an Italian rival to really spice things up.
If it’s not Ulissi then it just might be Astana’s Aru, freed of responsibilities to Scarponi it’ll be interesting to see how he responds. And the other day I think I had him from the wrong island; he’s a Sardinian not a Sicilian – that’s Sr. Nibali. Sorry Fabio.
Tomorrow is a long one, 249 K to Savona and almost certainly a breakaway stage – the GC men won’t want to be hurting their legs too much before Thursday’s chrono. ciao, ciao.