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Tag: Giro d’Italia 2012
Italian professional Marco Pinotti's new book, "The Cycling Professor" isn't so much a classic biography as a collection of anecdotes and experiences. In the book, the 36 year-old BMC rider from Bergamo takes the reader through his fourteen years as a professional cyclist, why he began in the sport later than his peers, his thoughts on the changes to the roads and training methods, and he details his views on some personalities and the major races on the calendar. Marco has said that compared to riding a three week national tour, writing a book is much harder, but we're not convinced and caught up with him before the BMC team launch in Belgium to ask him about his extra-curricular project ourselves...
Garmin’s Ryder Hesjedal came out of the Giro in shape of his life, with his morale sky high after his historic win. He rested well after Italy, resumed training and was in great shape for the Tour de France. He rode strongly in the prologue and managed to keep out of trouble – until stage six. The tall Canadian went down in the huge crash which marred the sprinters’ stage from Epernay to Metz, losing 13 minutes after hitting the tar hard at high speed. But the big Canadian was soon back on the bike and building up for the autumn. A top dozen ride in Piedmont was followed by sixth in the Tour of Lombardy – boding well for his next race, The Tour of Beijing. Hesjedal took time to speak exclusively to VeloVeritas about his crash in the Tour, his return to form and his hopes for the future as he waited for his flight to China at Paris airport.
Who were the men of the Giro? There was Ryder, certainly – and Rodriguez; but there was also Guardini’s confirmation; Ferrari’s transformation from from villain to hero; Cav and Taylor Phinney’s displays of grinta; Marco Pinotti’s class in winning the last time trial and Basso’s heroic but ultimately doomed bid for the podium. But perhaps the man of the race was Belgium’s Thomas De Gendt, who threatened to turn the Hesjedal/Rodriguez battle into a sideshow as he pulled off what the French call an ‘exploit’ on the race’s second last stage.
It was way back in 1999 when Marco Pinotti signed his first pro contract, with Lampre Daikin. The Italian team is still with us – and so is the time trial specialist from Bergamo. To use the clichéd comparison with wine, the 36 year-old gets better as every season passes.
It was a Saturday night in the summer of 2009 and I was driving ‘up the Town’ to the movies. I pulled the car over, answered the mobile and had my first chat with the man. VeloVeritas's pundit in residence Viktor had spotted this New Zealand laddie who was burning up the Flanders kermis scene in the colours of Anglo/Belgian team, Kingsnorth Wheelers – Jack Bauer.
It’s over, a great race from start to finish. Even the ‘flat boring sprinter stages’ all had terrific finales – and the time trial was a cracker. Rodriguez rode more strongly than anyone expected; this was no lame effort. When he rolled in to the last few bends the time gap was much less on Hesjedal than anyone – including Messrs Harmon and Kelly – thought it would be.
"What’s he playing at, riding like that in the valley? He’ll get eaten up on the climb!" So said our friend Vik. Even Sean Kelly didn’t think it was a good idea. Dave and I weren’t so sure – De Gendt is a hardy pup. Long lone breaks are his thing – he’s won two Paris-Nice stages in epic escapes.
It was an epic stage. A courageous but ultimately doomed breakaway (just don’t tell Vik I said that, Sandy Casar is number three on his hate list behind Moncoutie and Dumoulin); Kreuziger restoring his honour; Hesjedal continuing to amaze – and Basso having to come to terms with the fact that it’s looking very much like he can’t win the Giro.
‘Sprinter stage’ - sometimes Vik’s assessments can be correct – ‘watching paint dry,’ let’s hope not. But you can’t have a stage like yesterday then expect fireworks the next day. Sky dug deep to negate the early breakaway artists and Cav duly grabbed max points at the intermediated sprint to open the gap a little on Rodriguez
I wish I could get tomorrow’s Gazzetta, tomorrow – but it’ll be Saturday, at best. It was the first major shoot out, today. It’s over for Kreuziger and difficult for Tiralongo – a bad day for Astana. Uran continues to impress – perhaps he’ll get let off ‘train’ duties for Cav, tomorrow?
'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.
It's the Scottish road race championship, today - damn this Giro and it's climbs in beautiful Lombardy! But Martin was telling me that the sun was out in Balfron and the jackets were off, so Scotland certainly had the last laugh - the weather here in Italy was grim.
We thought it was the end for Cav, yesterday. The gruppetto was way down on the first of the two big climbs of the day - but Cav was even further back. And behind him, in a dreadful state, was Graeme Brown.
Cav, like him or loathe him, what a sprinter. His train is by no means HTC - the GreenEdge boys were much better organised, yesterday - but all that does is to underline his quality. He was isolated and boxed - he was free-wheeling at one stage - the gap opened and he was through it in a blink. His spatial awareness, reactions and acceleration make him a remarkable athlete. The Gazzetta compares him to Cipo - in terms of total wins and at the same age.
'Sad news, Donna Summer has passed away' said the text from Martyn Frank. That news cast a shadow over a day of bright sunshine and hills. The start was down on the coast - it's not quite beach season, so it's not heaving yet. In a month's time you won't be able to move on those beaches. We had a chat with Jack Bauer before the stage - he looks in great condition.
A man who's been working hard in defence of Garmin's pink jerseys - first on the shoulders of Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas and then Canada's Ryder Hesjedal - is Danish fast man, Alex Rasmussen. Alex took time to chat to his six day runner before the roll out at Assisi on Wednesday. If he'd had been one of the counting riders in the team time trial, it would have been him pulling on the pink jersey, not his Lithuanian team mate.
Giorgio Moroder's 'The Chase' from Midnight Express pumps out across the Civitavecchia sea front. A huge fibre glass sculpture of a nurse succumbing to the charms of a sailor - 'Unconditional Surrender' it's titled - towers over us. The whole scene is surreal, topped off by Pippo ambling past in shorts and T-shirt. He broke his hand yesterday and is out - but he still looks cool.
It looked to us like Cav and Goss were out of it anyway. There were a lot of riders round that wild bend before we saw Matt on the deck and Pippo looking a tad sheepish as he stood in the road checking to see how that nice MCipollini had stood up to being dropped.
Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) retained the overall race lead. Spain’s Joaquin Rodriguez is second at just nine seconds.' So said the official Giro press release - you'll read that again, on various websites. Press releases are where much of the daily content on web sites come from. The difference with us, is that we tell you we're quoting them.
I didn't manage to see stage seven - it fell on 'D minus one' for the VeloVeritas annual excursion to Italia. The loose ends were many and instead of having plenty of time to pack my bag and watch the Giro, I was 'running aboot daft' in the van. And Saturday evening rituals still had to be observed - a wee bite to eat and a movie. It's not as if you can say; 'I'm off to Italy the morn love, so we're no' going out tonight - I have a bag to pack and a Giro stage to skek !'
It was a tough one - Farrar, Feillu and Hushovd all go home. The dream is over for Navardauskas - he lost 15 minutes. But his Garmin team mates Ryder Hesjedal and Christian Vande Velde move up to third and fifth on GC. Garmin will burn up the watts in search of more pink - they know it'll be harder to come by when the Gazzetta stage ranking is a 5* and not a 3*, as yesterday's was.
I have to be careful with this one. Cav: I think I might be turning in to a fan! There ! - I've said it. To take his first stage, he had to display coolness, decisiveness and pure speed.
A sore one for Phinney - he's conducted himself well, but once those cycling Gods single you out, they don't let go, easily. He struggled on the climb and then overcooked it on a left-hand bend, there'll be pics everywhere tomorrow of that grass sprouting from his rear mech. Garmin were no surprise - just a pity that Alex Rasmussen got the mallet, it would be nice to say I had a friend who'd worn the pink jersey.
Now there's a misnomer; 'rest day.' But 'day to facilitate huge transfer which we have to carry out after our money spinning exercise in Denmark' doesn't quite roll off the tongue as easily. Let's go back to the reason the UCI introduced two rest days into Grant Tours, along with regulations to govern stage and total race lengths. There's a clue in the name, 'rest' - it was part of a raft of measures designed to lessen the stresses and strains on the riders. Read; 'stop them having to kit up.' But rest days have now become a vehicle for crazy transfers.
My club mate Davie Gardiner, in the Kirkcaldy and District CC, back in 1971 used to say that when he meant things were going swimmingly well; 'it was aw ice cream an' fairies !' Cav had one of those days, yesterday. Not so, today. Rainbow jerseys, Sunday Times 'richest sportsmen' lists, bouquets and praise for team mates all fell by the wayside as his little body slapped hard onto that Danish tarmac.
I bought most of the 'quality' Sundays, yesterday - to see what they had to say about the Giro. The Observer and Times ? nada. The Independent at least had the result. The Herald had a micro mug shot of Phinney and told us that he also won the opening stage of the Giro in 2010 ? However, the Times did have the 'Sports Rich List.' At number one in the UK is Becks with a fortune worth £160 million. On the world stage it's Tiger Woods, worth £538 mil. According to Chris Hoy's dad, his Keirin King son isn't a millionaire, despite his four Olympic golds. But guess who is ?
Cav is King. If these were Medieval times I'd have to throw myself on his mercy. Prostrate myself at the foot of the steps to the Sky bus, next Monday in Frosinone. Trust that in the joy of his re-confirmation as king of Denmark he'd be merciful. How could I doubt him ?
When Taylor Phinney crossed the finish line at the end of the Giro prologue, a big sigh went up here at VeloVeritas – ‘there goes our Giro prologue winner exclusive!’ Sky's Geraint Thomas had been top of the leader board until Phinney used those amazing genes of his to great effect and the Weshman had to make do with second place. It’s hard to believe, but Thomas is still only 25 years-old.
'My heart says Alex, but my head says Phinney,' my statement as I walked out the door of our rented cottage in search of a stable wi-fi connection. I would have loved Alex Rasmussen to win, but something told me that he wasn't 'sparkling.' And the same voice told me it was too far for Geraint Thomas.