Archive for June 2009
Rabobank team mechanic Vincent Hendriks will definitely be receiving a Christmas card from Denis Menchov this year. There’s a good chance there will be a big, fat check inside, too. Because Hendriks saved Menchov’s Giro victory by being instantly ready with a spare bike when the Russian crashed in the final kilometer of the time trial. After sliding 30 feet across the wet cobblestones, Menchov jumped to his feet to find Hendriks already there with bike #2. The well-prepared mechanic earned his pay for the entire year in that chaotic 10 seconds of crisis.
Menchov remounted, did a fire drill finish and promptly went nuts with joy, screaming, foaming at the mouth and howling at the sky. The stoic and emotionless Menchov released all the stress of the three week tour in one long outburst. The man earned it, nearly doing an imitation of Kevin Garnett after beating the Lakers for his first ring. Menchov wasn’t speaking in tongues but he was getting there.
Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) put in a valiant ride, out of the saddle for most of the 14.4 kilometer time trial through Rome. No one could seriously fault his tactics or combativeness and he was a class act in defeat. He finished 41 seconds back on GC and on the second step of the podium with Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) in third. The final stage reward would go to Cervelo’s Ignatas Konovalovas who edged out Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) by a second.
There will be many toasts at the bar for the Rabobank team tonight but the loudest cheers will be for Vincent Hendriks, the super mechanic for the maglia Rosa winner, Denis Menchov.
If they awarded a jersey for Most Frustrated Rider, Allan Davis, the sprinter for Quickstep, would be wearing it with pride.
Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) stole the last hope for the last sprinter in the Giro, snatching the win with a powerful move in the final kilometer. Talk about frustration. Davis must be feeling cursed and abused by the Cycling Gods. First, Boy Racer Mark Cavendish (Columbia) destroys any chance of winning the early sprint stages. And if it wasn’t Cavendish, it was Alessandro Petacchi (LPR BRakes). But when Cavendish bailed out before the big mountains, Davis must have thought to himself, “okay, I’ll crawl and suffer and cough blood and get the mountains and I will be rewarded on stage 20. I’ll be the only fast man left.”
That’s a tremendous amount of self-inflicted pain to win a Giro stage but well worth it. He’d be the QuickStep hero, with Tom Boonen at home with his cocaine habit. After all, what other sprinters were left? Cavendish was now on vacation with his girlfriend and doing press for his new book. Petacchi’s legs were dead from working in the mountains for Di Luca. Who was faster than him now– Julian Dean, Ben Swift? The 203k stage from Naples to Anagni was as good as his.
The only hitch in the plan was Gilbert who had his own designs. He’d also marked this stage for victory and when he came round on the first lap through town, he picked his launch point. He caught the last sprinter in the Giro by surprise. A great win for the classics rider and a catastrophic turn of events for Allan Davis, the Giro’s Most Frustrated Rider.