La Gazzetta Dello Sport doesn’t like Gibo Simoni, he gets a 3 out of 10 for yesterday’s effort, where he contrived to drop 17:59 on the stage – ouch! Saving it for today’s stage to Monte Petrano? We’ll see.
At 08:00 it’s already 28 degrees! It’s going to be a “Hot one!”
Dave’s at the helm of the Peugeot – we’re following Ale (Pez’s man in Italia) to the start at Pergola – the Stereophonics are telling us to “Have a nice day” and I’ve got my Gazzetta – can’t be bad.
Basso gets an 8 out of 10 for yesterday, albeit, if you were being brutally honest, you’d say; “why?” he gained nothing – but I guess it was for effort.
Stage winner, Bertagnolli scores 7.5; the always aggressive Garzelli 7; Menchov 7 (he looked well in command, yesterday); Di Luca 6 (Danilo looked to be showing the strain, yesterday); Sastre gets 5 and a slagging for panicking and dragging Pauwels back from the winning break.
Fast forward around 12 hours and we’re on a ‘strade blanche’ or white dust road – yes, like the ones in the Eroica – crawling down off the summit of Monte Petrano.
The main climb was closed while the barrier crews tore apart all the work that they had spent the night before on.
The press room was in a conference centre located at the top of the climb; we felt like the ghost in that old TV detective series, “Randall and Hopkirk, deceased” – we could see what was happening around us, but no one could see us.
That is until we needed wi-fi and they stung us 18 euros for 24 hours – great value.
We’re headed back to Fano for pizza and sleep, meanwhile, the riders have two hours plus in the buses to their hotels, after the hardest stage of the race – who’d be a pro?
La Gazzetta won’t be slagging old Carlos tomorrow; he jumped the favourites on the finish climb to take an epic stage and leap frog onto the podium.
We might be wrong, but it looks to us that Denis Menchov has this one in the bag; Di Luca is strong and gallus, but the Russian is strong and ice cool.
Leipheimer didn’t have a good day today; Lance dragged him up the finish climb as Carlos bolted and snaffled the Astana man’s third spot on GC.
After the finish, the favourites slipped a cape on and headed back down the mountain to the team buses.
Whilst Levi looked stressed, wasted and even angry, Lance looked like he just been down the shops – his return to form after three years absence and a broken collar has been remarkable.
For me, his team mate Contador is the only one who can beat the Texan for the Tour.
We drove the entire course today – and what a course; as well as four categorised climbs, there were at least four or five tough ascents which didn’t merit a category but which were all hard.
The parcours climbed from kilometre zero for six K in stifling heat, no categorisation, just part of the route.
Scarponi attacked virtually from the start and was in the action all day.
The winner’s time was 7:11:54 with the gruppetto at 48:14 – that’s eight hours in the saddle.
The average speed was 20 mph, which indicates how tough the parcours were.
Dave and I disagree on this, but I wonder if the stages have to be quite that tough – Dave thinks they do, but I feel that six hours would be sufficient.
However many hours, kilometres, climbs, descents and degrees C, you cannot help but admire all the men who do this, day after day.
Sastre’s ride surprised me, I didn’t think he had a ride like that in him at this time of the year – very impressive.
Ale said before the stage yesterday that he felt it would be the day the classification was shaped – I think he was right.
Rest day tomorrow; there will be more than a few guys glad of that.