The last ten days have been amazing to be a cycling fan, for both good good and bad reasons.
1. Stage 7 of the Giro from Carrara to Montalcino
Spectacular to watch, tough to ride. Some of the most iconic images of our sport in recent times have come out of that day. Some of the stars embraced it and made headway on the GC, whilst others completely imploded in the conditions. Watching Evans bridge the gap to the leaders, ride through and off the front in the finale, had the hairs on my neck standing in end.
2. Stage 5: the split.
Whilst two of the three teams left in contention for the GC played a game of chicken (Astana and Liquigas), and the third team who had mostly abandoned (BMC) were helpless, literally half of the race rode off the front including such luminaries as Wiggins and Sastre to gain over 10mins. Boom! The GC top 10 just got wiped out. Race reset.
3. First year pro Nick Porte leading the Giro
Great quote “I don’t now how it happened, but I’ll take it!“. At the end of Stage 5 he found himself in the pink jersey with over 1.45 min to second place, and over 1o mins to some of the GC favorites. This is going to make an interesting game of carrot over the mountains this weekend. The word from Saxo Bank is “The kid can climb”, so is going to take it on themselves and make the race hard.
4. Landis Gate
As it has become known around these parts. Who knows what to believe. It all seems so incredible. The governing body receiving bungs to keep quiet. Some of the biggest stars still racing implicated in doping. Lance exposed… but who do you trust. The Landis book I can forgive, most of them are nonsense anyway, so if you choose to buy it, that is on you. But taking money from fans to fund your “I am innocent appeal” is a hard one to take. One thing for sure, if there is an ounce of evidence to back any of this up, American cycling and the UCI will be in tatters. We are going to sit back and watch this one play out a bit.
5. Lance Down and Out
Maybe his head was still at the Landis press conference, but this is a guy who doesn’t fall off much, and the timing of this one could not have been worse. With 50 days to the Tour and a spotty early season in his legs, Lance really needed the race time a TOC to get ready.
Photos by Graham Watson