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.
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...
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.
"What’s he playing at, riding like that in the valley? He’ll get eaten up on the climb" as the winner De Gendt on the Passo dello Stelvio climbs... 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.
Joaquin Rodriguez sums it all up, neatly. It was an epic stage to Alpe di Pampeago... 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).
‘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 after leaving San Vito di Cadore to negate the early breakaway artists and Cav duly grabbed max points at the intermediated sprint to open the gap a little on Rodriguez; who had closed down to within one point of the Manxman with his win at Cortina d’Ampezzo, yesterday.
I wish I could get tomorrow’s Gazzetta, tomorrow – but it’ll be Saturday, at best. It was the first major shoot out, today, to Cortina d'Ampezzo. 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 Championships today - damn this Giro and it's climbs around Busto Arsizio 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.
Today we're in Cervinia, looking back at yesterday's stage... we thought it was the end for Cav. The gruppetto was way down on the first of the two big climbs of the day - but Cav was even further back.
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. Today, in the stage from Savona to Cervere, he was isolated and boxed - he was free-wheeling at one stage - the gap opened and he was through it in a blink.
We're in Seravezza. '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.
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 en route Montecatini Terme.
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 in Frosinone 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 Cipollini had stood up to being dropped.
'Lago Laceno, May 13, 2012 – Italy’s Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox) won stage eight of the Giro d’Italia with a lone attack on the steep climb to Lake Laceno, near Naples. Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) retained the overall race lead. Spain’s Joaquin Rodriguez is second at just nine seconds.'
I didn't manage to see stage seven to Rocca di Cambio - 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 ironic that Chris Anker Sørensen’s life should end doing what he had become known for after his career as a professional cyclist was over – preparing meticulously for his role as a TV race commentator, out riding the parcours of Sunday’s World Individual Time Trial Championship in Flanders.
We liked our jaunt to the Tour of the Campsies last year and feel at home among the rolling countryside and green hills there so we headed west, first of all paying our respects to the Robert Millar mural at the foot of the Crow Road; when you watch Roglič take the Lagos di Covadonga stage in the Vuelta it’s difficult to imagine the wee fella from Glasgow winning that stage – but win it he did.
We had a look around Hawick as the 2021 Tour of Britain race carnival hit town, we caught up with friends then headed out on the course, hiding from the wind on Wanside Rig to see the peloton as it headed towards Gifford...
With victories already this season in various time trial distances ranging from 25 to 100 miles (with a two mile hill climb win too), Iain Macleod (Kelpie Racing) added the Scottish Cycling Olympic Time Trial 2021 title to his growing palmarès.
The Ribble ‘Ultra Aero’ is a beautiful piece of machinery and in the manner of the best British speed machines – Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lotus, Norton – pulls off that trick of looking very quick even when it’s standing still. We caught up with Ribble CEO, Andy Smallwood and ex-pro and DS, Jamie Burrow, Ribble’s head of product development; here’s what they had to say.
Congratulations are in order as Christina Mackenzie became the fastest-ever woman to traverse the largest of the British Isles from it’s south western to north eastern tips. Christina, originally from the Isle of Lewis but now Stirling-based took time to speak to VeloVeritas a day or two after her epic ride.
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