Last year we filed our last Giro report and left the Giro to wind it’s way north without us – thrashed the hire car to Pisa to spend a night under the stars, sleeping on a wooden deck outside Galileo Galilei airport – always book your room in advance if you’re going to Pisa, folks -.
Not this year!
As stage 13 reached its climax, we were landing at Brescia Airport.
The ancient Roman coloseum at Piazza Bra is the start place for tomorrow’s 14th stage.
We have the privilege of covering the final, crucial eight stages of the 2008 Giro, and we’ll do our best to take you with us through this wonderful country and the world’s second biggest bicycle race.
We checked in at our hotel just in time to catch “Cav” – on the TV action replay – taking his second stage and proving that his first win on the fourth tappa was no fluke.
When it comes to golden arches, Verona is the real deal.
High Road’s Cavendish, under lining his arrival in the top echelon of sprinters, has been one of the surprises of the race so far.
There have been a few; notably Visconti’s inspired defence of his pink jersey and Slipstream’s supersonic ttt win on day one in Sicily.
Given Slipstream’s super-clean platform, their TTT victory was more than just a stage win.
Mixed with the surprises, there has been ‘business as usual.’
Stages two and eight reminded us that Riccardo Ricco (Saunier) wasn’t just a ‘one season wonder’ whilst Daniele Bennati would be on a ‘Cipo-esque’ four stage wins already, if it wasn’t for the little man from the middle of the Irish Sea.
Ricco put his legs where his mouth is and scored two stages so far, starting with his last lap surge to the finish in Agrigento.
As it is, ‘Benna’ has to settle for a very healthy three stages; three, nine and 12 – but after last year in Paris and his victory in the Tour’s show case stage we already knew he was special.
Matteo Priamo took a huge win on the tough climb to Peschici.
Pavel Brutt finally gave Oleg Tinkov the result he wanted on stage five; and on stage six it was Matteo Priamo striking another blow for the ‘little guys’ and grabbing the champagne for Navigare.
Gabriele Bosisio (LPR) took stage seven to take the heat off his boss, Danilo Di Luca and stage 10 saw that beast of a man, Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) reprise last year’s mountain time trial win.
Visconti has impressed more than a few with his defence of the maglia rosa.
Old war horse, Alessandro Bertolini (Serramenti) made it yet another good day for the under dogs when he won stage 11.
Tomorrow’s stage 14 profile is down right scary, but wait till you see what comes next…
Despite all the good racing, it’s fair to say that the Giro really starts tomorrow. Today’s stage rated one star difficulty from the Gazzetta; the next three days all rate five stars.
Stage 15 on Sunday… ugh.
Cavendish has gone home already and Bennati will be thinking about autobuses because tomorrow the race will leave Verona, lovely old city of Romeo and Juliet, to tackle the mighty Manghen and finish atop Alpe di Pampeago.
Stage 16 – the feared uphill TT.
Sunday there are five climbs, all over 2000 metres and Monday is the fearsome Plan de Corones mountain time trial.
Can Di Luca defend or will Contador avenge Astana? And what of Simoni, Savoldelli, Ricco and Piepoli, Kloden and Bruseghin? How long will Visconti cling to his lead?
The next few days will be action packed and whatever happens, Pez will be there !