May 29 2005
PSYCH! Everything went exactly according to plan in the final stage of the ’05 Giro. The field piddled along at 27 kph for a while (oh yeah, it was downhill, too), before Discovery fired up the first of the 12 finishing circuits. Some Australians tried solo moves before Petacchi and Fassa kicked the GI tract out of everyone else for stage win #4.
So Savodelli won, and showed himself to be as much a cool-headed tactician and smooth-handed politician as a breakneck descender. After all, he managed to fend off one of the most hard-nosed climbers in the game (Simoni) on climb after climb, without a single teammate to so much as pass him a water bottle. Props should also probably go to Discovery DS Sean Yates, who has scored a win in his first Grand Tour with the team.
So who were the big losers this year? Certainly Simoni must be a little down, after his bold predictions and with arguably the strongest team behind him. Paolo Bettini won the points competition and took a great Stage 1 vic, but made lots of enemies. Baden Cooke, Stuey O’Grady and even Henk Vogels took umbrage with the skinny Italian’s riding. Even in the relaxed atmosphere of the final stage, Vogels stated his game plan as:
“I really plan to do my best to get on the podium today, get on that train somewhere, get right in the mix. Somewhere near Bettini and with a bit of luck, I’ll be able to pay him back for the other day…”
Vogels finished 10th, which is solid, considering the squeeze the Fassa boys put on the peleton in the final few k. No word on whether or not he settled his account with The Cricket; if Bettini knows what’s good for him, he won’t plan on racing next year’s Tour Down Under.