You’d think that coming off a rest day, with only one other flat stage left in the race, the handful of remaining sprinters would be raring to go today. But you’d be wrong. As the Discovery Channel-lead peloton languished 20 minutes behind, young Frenchman Christophe Le Mevel sprung away from his breakaway companions with 2k to go, taking his most impressive victory to date. Notably less psyched was second-place finisher Christophe Brandt, who crossed the line 9 seconds later, punching his handlebars in frustration because, clearly, they had been the reason for his defeat.
The rest of the Giro should be molto interesante. With 3 stages left, including two hill-top finishes and a nasty little TT, 7 men sit within 5 minutes of the lead. Behind Savoldelli, it’s DiLuca, Simoni, Garate (who?), KOM leader Rujano, Cauchioli and Gonchar. They are capable climbers to a man, though last year’s runner-up Gonchar has a definate edge in the TT.For his part, Gibo sees the remaining stages as a fait accompli, referring to tomorrow’s uphill finish as “a rich appetizer” for his eventual victory, in a Gazetto Della Sport interview. Big words from a petty, little man.
Also talking loudly after yesterday’s stage was American Christian Vande Velde. The likeable CSC rider and former Postie (who can be heard on the 2001 documentary “The Road to Paris,” sassing back “Not Me!” after Postal DS Johan Bruyneel states that any of the USPS riders could win Le Circ de Sarthe) took umbrage with Roy Sentiens Stage 15 solo move in the rain. Though impressed with the Dutchman’s strength, Vande Velde in the end stated “I still think he’s a dumb ass.” I think CVV should keep in mind that lots people shell out dough to watch this bike race, and seeing a solo move, even a dumbass one, is a hell of a lot more interesting than watching 140 drowned rats soft-pedal downhill.