May 14 2009
Six stages in, and I think the GC has reached something approaching stable. Yes, there are still hills coming, and yes, disaster could strike any moment CVV-style, but for the most part, I think the party won’t get going again until after Sunday’s SuperCrit in Milan.
Running back through the results, I see ample fodder for fans of CyclingFansAnonymous (who, by the way, blocked me on twitter because I made fun of her). Dennis Menchov (at left), the first rider to win a Grand Tour via a doping disqualification, is also the only rider to win an individual stage in this year’s Giro without previously serving a drug suspension.
At the other end of the race, first week casualties include Damiano Cunego; given his post-2004 cycling career, this should come as a surprise to no one. I sometimes think he swapped talents for a season or two with Danilo Diluca, when the Killer was bagging classics left and right—it’s like a cosmic mistake in some idiotically plotted Rom-Com.
Also drifting his way back into the cheap seats is Lance Armstrong, which might actually be bad news for the other contenders. Having both Lance and Levi at the top of the GC might mean a divided Astana—or whatever the heck they’ll be called by then—when the third week finally decides this crazy race. But with Lance a few minutes back, and Horner likely to lose time (though that depends on who you ask), the team can focus on making one guy win.
And, in case you’d forgotten, Bruyneel loves having a GC rider outside the Top 20. In ’03, the year Lance almost lost the TdF, and two days after Ullrich took 1:36 out of the Texan in a TT, Postal put Manuel Beltran 15 minutes up the road in a break, giving him the virtual race lead. USPS sat up and said “hey, you wanna let Triki win the TdF, fine by us.”
Ulle’s Binachi squad was forced to chase, Postal got the day off, and the next day, Lance Armstrong took the stage at Luz Ardiden, and secured the Tour. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some similar tactics if things stay close this time around as well.