May 19 2005
Well, so much for Cunego. All the stresses of Lamaze practice and shopping for strollers finally took their toll, as the 24-year-old defending champ lost almost six minutes to stage winner Paolo Savoldelli. History of broken collar bones aside, Il Falco scared the crap out of the moto drivers with his descending ability and escaped with Ivan Basso, who attacked in a grand tour for the first time anyone can remember. The two stayed away, with Savoldelli outsprinting Basso, and Basso taking the pink. The duo cut a swath of destruction that left only 7 riders within 5 minutes of the lead. A notable exception was loudmouthed malcontent Gibo Simoni, who proved he wasn’t entirely full of hot air by losing only 21 seconds on the day. But perhaps the stage’s biggest suprise was alleged one-day specialist Danilo DiLuca, who hung in for fourth, and now sits only a minute back on GC. Keep an eye on DiLuca for the ProTour overall if he keeps riding like that.
It was a big day all around for Discovery Channel, with everyone’s favorite Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych taking the overall lead at the Volta a Catalunya, and Luxemburg diesel Benoit Joachim making the early solo break in today’s Giro stage, and keeping away for around 100k. About the only bad news for the boys in turquois was that TdG winner Tom Danielson’s knee really is hurt, and that his early Giro pull-out was not simply more of Johan’s mind games. Fortunately, the inflammation is slight, and the friendly-but-somewhat-ineloquent Durango, CO native should be back on form well in advance of his next big racing rendezvouz, the Vuelta a Espana.
One last word on Alti-gate; an emergency coaches’ meeting 45 minutes before the start of the stage agreed that the entire raid was stupid. The fact that it took 20-some-odd directeur sportifs to determine this makes me wonder how many Pro Tour coaches it would take to screw in a light bulb.