Thursday, May 22, 2008

Giro 2008: Festival of crashes

Wet roads, short steep ascents, fast descents and enough road for everyone to come back together. Some took their chances and lost, others kept their powder dry for tomorrow. Not a day I'd be happy about but good on Bertolini for coming up trumps, and Visconti for hanging tough...

After 16 years as a professional, Alessandro Bertolini has won his first ever stage in the Giro d'Italia. The 36 year-old Italian, whose main job is to defend Serramenti PVC team leader Gilberto Simoni, was part of a five-man escape that dominated a wet and demanding stage to Cesena in Italy's Emilia Romagna region.

Must say I made a point of racing and training in the wet, but was even more careful than usual (if that be possible). Indeed as the years went by and the crashes built up I grew ever more wary about greasy roads, although my most memorable slip was on oil dropped by a truck over a railway bridge in Lewisham, NSW. I survived the slide with grazes but the motorbike rider who went down next was far more infuriated about the whole thing - and rightly so. Beware the unexpected.

To come: 2 flat sprinters' stages. Watch for McEwen, see if he can actually take a win this year. After that the Giro becomes truly brutal. Expect a few non-Italian-team sprinters to fold their tents and pack it in. The mountain men will dominate from that point, although a couple of climbing-sprinters (like Bettini and Zabel) will hang their hopes on a stage or 2 in-between the mountain passes. Soler would have shone on some of these 20% climbs, but he's now sadly out of the race. Look at Simoni and Contador to have a go instead. Di Luca will surely fade but may dig deep. Kloden may surprise.