Fed Up, Knocked Down, and Dropped Out

Some Notes on the Giro

The Service Course is never really at a loss for words, but we are frequently at a loss for time. So with the (American) Memorial Day holiday weekend looming, here’s some quick fodder from the bella Italia.
  1. Ah, there’s nothing like getting what you wish for, on Christmas day, Memorial Day, or any other day, really. Less than two days after the SC suggested that Giro media not grovel at the feet of Lance Armstrong’s (or anyone's) Twitter feed, it seems they’re publishing tweets no more. The Service Course -- it’s what drives the Giro press corps.

  2. Danilo DiLuca (LPR) did indeed lose his pink leader's jersey in yesterday’s freakazoid time trial, which is obviously not the greatest shock to the cycling world. That said, he did well to not completely blow himself up, riding well enough to keep himself in the second spot behind TT winner and new pink jersey Denis Menchov (Rabobank). With some explosive stages in the hills yet to come, we may well see him back in pink at some point. Could it be for good? That's tougher, as he'd have to build back up enough cushion to see him through one more time trial.

  3. Looking like a bit of a three-horse race now isn’t it? Levi Leipheimer (Astana) is the third horse, in case you were wondering. With the aforementioned mountain stages coming up, the question will be whether diesel Leipheimer can match the accelerations of DiLuca and Menchov (to a lesser extent) well enough to keep himself in contention come the final TT. Armstrong does seem to be riding himself into shape, and should be able to help him to a point. The question is, how much? In the days of yore, Armstrong would have been the guy to be able to match those accelerations, but even if that happens, it won’t do Leipheimer a whole lot of good if he can’t follow Armstrong back to the wheel in time. We may well see another round of sharp attack versus fast-and-steady in the coming week. Iban Mayo tested this theory thoroughly against Armstrong in the 2003 Dauphine Libere, and though Armstrong eventually won the race, Mayo did a lot of damage along the way.

  4. With his win today and subsequent leadership of the Giro, will Denis Menchov finally get some buzz? Despite two Vuelta wins, you don’t hear much about Russia’s biggest GC hope for a few reasons. First, he’s just doesn’t seem to be much of a talker, trash or otherwise. He’s also not particularly flashy on a bike – a great time trialist and a good grinder in the mountains, but he doesn’t exactly shout “explosive,” though I do think he’s shown a lot more punch on the climbs in the last couple of years. Finally, one of his Vuelta wins was awarded after initial winner Roberto Heras was popped for doping. No matter how you regard victories of that nature, they certainly don’t make as big an impact as the ones where you get the kisses on the top step at the end.

  5. Speaking of Russians, if Menchov wins the Giro for Rabobank, won’t Katusha just die?

  6. Turns out the Giro time trial was just a little too crazy for multiple world TT champion Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), who woke up Thursday morning and thought, “eh, maybe not.” As it always seems to be in these situations, it was apparently always the plan for Cancellara to go home early to get ready for the Tour de France, though the "right before a stage I really didn't want to ride" was never explicitly spelled out. It also fits into Saxo Bank’s larger team plan of doing absolutely nothing in the Giro d’ Italia.