“Super Grinta,” Denis, Roma and Ignatas Konovalovas.
That was what the Gazzetta said about Danilo after the Vesuvio stage; “grinta” is the quality of physical and mental toughness that the true greats have – “Super Grinta” – great expression.
And now it’s 09:55, Ciampino Airport, Rome on Monday.
The hire car is gone, we’re in the departure lounge – and it’s all over.
I think it’s perhaps the best of the eight Grand Tours I’ve done; maybe the UCI and Tour de France don’t think much of Danilo Di Luca, but the Italian public loves him.
He made this a Giro exciting and memorable, a real bike race; not a procession with riders frightened to loose their GC placings.
Di Luca has a bit of ‘previous’ – but who doesn’t at the top level, in this sport? As long as he’s clean now, let him get on with his racing.
The final time trial could have been a damp squib; the course was crazy – far from pan flat, mostly cobbled and like a skating rink during the frequent showers.
But the backdrop of Roma was spectacular and Menchov’s crash made it so dramatic.
Our angle was, “come to the chrono in Rome with VeloVeritas” – not just the race, but the course, the sights, a bit of gossip.
We had a great – if long – day in Rome.
The race security was dire, folks just hauled barriers open and wandered across the road, not bothering to slide them back into place and leaving them jutting in to the road.
Many of the spectators were tourists, not aficionados, no-one had a watch – at the Tour, old guys wander up to you with their fob watches and compare their timing with you.
I love the Gazzetta’s race coverage but one thing they don’t do – L’Equipe does for the Tour – is to publish a full start list. At le Tour, every second spectateur has their start sheet, torn from L’Equipe.
The Gazzetta’s pictures of Menchov’s brush with the cobble sets are great; his mechanic gets compared to a Formula One mechanic.
But for his crash, the Russian would probably have won the stage, he missed victory by 24 seconds but lost 20 to 25 whilst he was on the deck.
Brad Wiggins was unlucky to loose the stage by a single second – a win would have salvaged the race for Garmin.
He was unlucky in that he rode in the rain, but Phil Deignan reckons that it was the same for his Cervelo team mate, Ignatas Konovalovas.
We saw the tall, powerful, Lithuanian thrash past in his white time trial champion’s skinsuit. We could see that he was ripping, but he wasn’t on our – or anybody else’s – list of stage favourites.
He’s 23, lives in Marseille and was with CA last season; when as well as the Lithuanian TT championship, he won a stage in the Tour of Luxembourg.
It was a great race for some teams – LPR, Rabobank, Columbia, Cervelo, Liquigas and Diquigiovanni; good for some – Silence and QuickStep, but brutal for a lot of teams. The likes of Bouygues, Galicia, Caisse and Fuji were invisible.
Philip Deignan bit the dust twice, at 5 and 10 K – he has scars on his scars.
Ian Stannard did a good ride yesterday for 29th; whilst most of his ISD team mates opted for road bikes, Ian stuck with his lo-pro, telling us that on the long straights there’s no way you can get the same top end speed on a road bike.
We’re glad we braved the mosh pit at the presentation – we got the chance to chat to Phillip and Ian, plus get good shots of Di Luca, Menchov and Pellizotti.
It also gave us a sense of the race really being over; if you watch the last rider flash past, then head for the press room, it’s still buzzing about your head.
Hearing the war stories and being there as the riders rode off to the presentation made you think; “that’s it!”
Respect Danilo – never say die.
And Denis, big strong, solid, calm under fire.
Respect also to Petacchi, super cool and working selflessly for Di Luca.
Thanks to Dario Cioni, Rubens Bertogliati, Ben Swift, Ian Stannard, Phil Deignan, Charly Wegelius and all the others who took to time to give us good answers and quotes.
Reality beckons – but so does le Tour!
Oh, aye, how does the Gazzetta score them out of 10?
- Lance: 6
- Basso: 7
- Sastre: 7.5
- Pellizotti: 8
- Menchov: 9
- and Danilo? ‘The Killer’ gets 8.5 – we’d have given him 9.5.