Twisted Spoke

My twisted take on the world of pro bike racing.

Archive for the ‘Giro d'Italia’ Category

The new Giro Jerseys. Yolanthe Cabau in pink.

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Yolanthe in pink.

Giro news flash: Yolanthe is back and again we sing the praises of Angelo Zomegnan.

This is the man who’s single-handedly keeping the spectacle and sex appeal of cycling alive and well. While the Tour de France trots out old men in suits, Giro impresario Zomegnan always makes sure his events are heavy on eye candy. He’s the Hugh Hefner of the sport and the Giro is his personal Playboy club.

The presentation of the four prestigious jerseys of the 2010 Giro d’Italia took place at the Pitti Uomo exhibit in Florence. More accurately, it took place on gorgeous super babe Yolanthe Cabau Van Kasbergen, a 24-year-old Dutch actress, plaything and patroness of the 2010 Giro. What other tour is brilliant enough to have a patroness?

Yolanthe modeled the four leader’s jerseys for Giro winners Ivan Basso and Damiano Cunego — and guess what? They came to the near instantaneous decision that they must have that jersey. In fact, they’re hoping to join Yolanthe inside the pink micro-fiber garment.

Zomegnan continues to operate on a higher conceptual plane than other grand tour directors. This is a man who understands the Giro is about passion and desire, drama and sex. He takes a storytellers’ approach to designing his grand tour, with a near maniacal insistence on spectacle.

Crazy Z doesn’t care about mundane details like whether start towns have enough hotel beds or if rider transfers are too long and complicated. He demands pageantry and extravaganza. Hence his wild drawing board plans for a Washington D.C. Giro start. Zomegnan is a big picture guy and, like Lance Armstrong, he knows it’s not about the bike.

Welcome back Yolanthe. Not surprisingly the jersey looks exceptional and we’re Giro-jazzed. Another chapeau for the king of cycling showmanship, Angelo Zomegnan.

A Giro start in Washington DC? Why not Kabul?

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tank

Fans are ready for a Kabul Giro start.

Giro boss Angelo Zomegnan (Crazy Z) says he’s considering starting the Giro in Washington D.C. A capital idea, don’t you think?

Riders complain about long transfers but this would only necessitate a measly eight hour flight and dealing with a six hour time difference. Those guys need to toughen up.

We like Crazy Z’s bold thinking. While the Tour de France makes the short, timid trip to the Netherlands, Z is pushing the envelope. His podium girls are hotter, his presentations are sexier and his vision grander. Talk all you want about Tour de France history, Zomegnan sees the glorious Fellini-esque future of the Giro. This man is not some route picker, he’s an artist.

rio

The Giro thong is on.

Twisted Spoke says why stop at Washington D.C. when he can go even farther? How about starting in Rio de Janeiro, a Rio Giro? Pack up the Pinarello and the thong. Why not Kabul in Afghanistan — some great mountains nearby and cheap heroin. (Bring some Italian mine-sweepers.) The Taliban loved bike racing as long as you wear a full beard.

Is Antarctica out of the question? Sure, there’s no real population but imagine the drama, polar bears chasing the peloton. The fusion of lycra and fur. Alejandro Valverde might even borrow a dog sled.

Why not a short prologue on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the South China sea? These are the daring ideas that captivate a man such as Crazy Z.

penguin

A super cool Giro.

Oh sure, some riders will complain and protest. As Zomegnan once said, “it seems like their legs have become shorter and their tongues longer.” These skinny guys just know how to pedal a bike fast. The vision thing is not their thing — that’s Crazy Z territory.

What’s a 20 hour plane ride when the grand spectacle of the Giro is at stake?

Written by walshworld

November 4, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Di Luca denies use of performance enhancing cake. “I did not take SARAH.”.”

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DI Luca: "I am not a cake cheat."

Di Luca: "I am not a cake cheat."

The UCI has provisionally suspended Italian Danilo Di Luca for two positive tests for SARAH Lee, the popular cake and baked good. The LPR-Brakes rider’s doping control samples showed evidence of the “cake” on two occasions during the 2009 Giro d’Italia.

Di Luca finished second overall in the Giro to Russian Denis Menchov of Rabobank.

“These adverse findings were a result of a targeted test programme using information from Di Luca’s biological passport, ” the UCI press release stated. “The system works, we are eradicating cake in the peloton,” said UCI president Pat McQuaid.

Could this mean a possible lifetime ban for the rider they call “the Killer?”

Often confused with CERA, the EPO derivative, SARAH –especially the Double Chocolate Layer Cake — is often used as a intense sugar boost right before a mountain stage. While not illegal for the average person with a sweet tooth, SARAH is on the UCI list of banned substances.

It’s an open secret that cake usage is rife in the peloton, with the coconut, coffee and classic Sarah Lee pound cake the most popular choices.

On Friday, the Carabinieri anti-drug unit raided Di Luca’s house near Pescara and the nearby residence of Dr Paulo Baruccione, the grocer accused of supplying the cake. They turned up nothing except a fork crusted with icing. The fork was taken away for further analysis.

While awaiting his B-sample, Di Luca maintained his innocence: “why would I eat cake? It’s fattening.”




Written by walshworld

July 24, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Giro d'Italia

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Menchov and mechanic win Giro.

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I love my mechanic!

I love my mechanic!

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.

Written by walshworld

June 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

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Gilbert wins Giro stage 20; Allan Davis robbed.

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Gilbert wins, Davis fumes.

Gilbert wins, Davis fumes.

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.

Written by walshworld

June 1, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Scarponi wins, Pate and McCartney come close in Giro stage 18.

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Danny Pate on his Big Giro Adventure

Danny Pate on his Big Giro Adventure

Danny &  Jason. Doesn’t that sound like two characters in a kids book filled with mad-cap adventures? Danny & Jason rocket to Mars, Danny & Jason and the deep-sea monster, Danny & Jason ride the Giro!

Americans Danny Pate (Garmin-Slipstream) and Jason McCartney (Saxo Bank) gave us thrills and chills today. Along with five breakaway buddies, they both left an exhausted peleton behind after 55 kilometers. The escape was on, another exploit, our two irrepressible boys loose in the Italian countryside. Despite the efforts of Rabobank, Milram and Fuji (who both missed the break) nobody could bring them back.

With the finish line drawing near, both Pate and McCartney launched attacks. The final kilometers were a roller coaster of moves and counter moves, as the small group shattered and reformed. Pate was dropped and clawed his way back. With one kilometer to go, Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) jumped on the cobbled section and Felix Cardenas (Barloworld) chased, pulling Pate into his slipstream. Danny accelerated but was just nipped by Michele Scarponi and Cardenas.

What an amazing adventure! Danny took 3rd place and Jason grabbed 7th.  Stay tuned for stage 19, Danny & Jason tackle the Vesuvio Volcano!

Written by walshworld

May 28, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Where’s the traditional Giro drug raid?

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Giro boss Zomegnan: "Oh no, I forgot the Giro drug bust!"

Giro boss Zomegnan: "Oh no, I forgot the Giro drug bust!"

Something is missing from this years’ 100th anniversary Giro. No, it’s not an epic climb left off the route or a famous rider or team that didn’t make the start list. Somebody forgot to include the once-a-Giro drug raid by police.

Where are the Carabinieri and the anti-drug storm-troppers? It has become something of a Giro tradition the last few years to have a drug raid as part of the race events. The authorities hit the team hotels, buses, rummage through the rooms and generally annoy the riders. Massages and pasta dinners and sometimes even bedtime are interrupted.

What happened to tradition, we ask? Not even one rider targeted for suspicious values? Perhaps the police and Giro Organizer Angelo Zomegnan (Crazy Z) worked out a deal for the 100th anniversary–no drugs raids this year in return for two raids next year.

We miss the excitement, the outrage and the goodies they always uncover:  nice, new syringes, mysterious unmarked prescription bottles, a well- thumbed copy of the Dummies Guide to Performance Enhancing Drugs. What’s a three week tour without 21 stages, 2 rest days and 1 drug raid? A shocking over-sight. Surely, somebody is riding suspiciously fast, someone like, say, Denis Menchov.

We’d hate for Lance Armstrong to miss this Giro tradition in his only Giro appearance. It’s not too late for the Policia to bring the kind of excitement only they can bring.

Written by walshworld

May 28, 2009 at 12:28 am

Armstrong makes a bold attack but Pellizotti wins stage 17.

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No more water bottle fetching for me, folks.

No more water bottle fetching for me, folks.

Who wasn’t excited when Lance took off after Franco Pellizotti (Liguigas)? Who didn’t get that Tour De France feeling all over again? Who didn’t have visions of Lance on Alpe d’Huez, Ventoux and Hautacam ready to destroy all rivals? And who didn’t groan when Lance dropped back unable to reach Pellizotti’s wheel? For a few kilometers we had the Lance of old, not an old Lance. All too soon on the climb up to Blockhaus, Di Luca (LPR Brakes), Menchov (Rabobank), Basso (Liguigas) left him behind.

DI Luca did everything possible to break Menchov but to no avail. “The Killer” gritted his teeth, almost possessed, continually out of the saddle while Menchov simply sat behind. Only in the final 100 meters was Di Luca able to sprint for a gain of 5 seconds. Menchov rides a Giant bike and he truly was a giant again today. With one mountaintop stage to go, he leads Di Luca by 26 seconds.

The big loser today was Carlos Sastre whose tank appeared empty after his massive effort yesterday. He fell back two places on GC behind the Liguigas duo of Pellizotti (3rd) and Basso (4th). Sastre did he best to regain contact with Di Luca and Menchov but even with help from Armstrong, he lacked the power in his legs. A solid but unspectacular ride by Levi Leipheimer puts him in 6th with almost no hope of a podium spot.

However, Armstrong showed his great form and, freed from the domestique chores, we’re sure he’ll attack again. The team continues to miss Chris Horner– it would have been interesting to see what Horner could do when he was free to ride for himself and not look after Leipheimer. But is Lance back? He looks about 95% there and closing fast. And who wasn’t excited about that? Tour de France anyone?

Written by walshworld

May 27, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Leipheimer cracks, Armstrong babysits and Sastre wins.

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Lance drags Levi uphill.

Lance drags Levi uphill.

Lance Armstrong looked frustrated. Maybe even ticked off. He was itching to follow the decisive attacks on the final climb of Monte Petrano when his team-mate Levi Leipheimer cracked. Lance kept turning around, expecting, praying that Levi would pull himself up, but it never happened. After an initial surge forward, Lance was forced to slow down and babysit Leipheimer, who picked a terrible day to have a bad day. Carlos Sastre won the stage with Menchov and Di Luca closing fast but Leipheimer lost almost 3 minutes and all hope of a podium.

It must have been a bitter experience for Armstrong, who was clearly on form and raring to challenge Menchov, Di Luca and Basso. A hundred dollars to know what conversations passed between Levi and Lance. Hard to say what’s more painful for Leipheimer: losing the Giro or letting down Lance. It was a surprising collapse for Levi who spoke with confidence only days earlier about his good form and energy level.

At the base of the Monte Petrano, Astana appeared to be in a strong position with Popovych alone up the road and Lance and Levi well-positioned. No doubt the hope was that Leipheimer would make his move, distance the main rivals and pick up Popovych for extra help in the final kilometers. A great plan except for the missing ingredient: Levi’s legs. Until the last 3k, Popovych had a stage win in his sights before he was swamped by the charging Sastre and company. A bad day for Astana, especially considering that they haven’t been paid, either.

The decision for Johan Bruyneel now is whether to free Lance Armstrong from his domestique duties. With Levi out of the podium picture and Lance ready to attack, we should see fireworks soon or at least more agressive tactics. Lance isn’t used to waiting for anyone. Not Levi and certainly not after today.

Written by walshworld

May 25, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Posted in Giro d'Italia

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Simon Gerrans pulls off a breakaway win in Giro, stage 14.

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Simon says "I win."

Simon says "I win."

 

 

You remember the kid’s game? Simon says… “win a Giro stage.” Simon says, “do it today.”

When we last saw little, baby-faced Simon Gerrans in a breakaway, it was a winning move in a 2008 Tour de France stage. Although he looks young enough to be in college or parking cars at a restaurant, Gerrans has a confidence and killer instinct that he once again put to good use on stage 14 to San Luca. 

While all the main GC riders started a riveting game of “who’s marking who?” Gerrans (team Cervelo) joined the early breakaway group only 12 kilometers into the race. It took him another 160 kilometers to dump the dozen riders with him but eventually he crossed the line in fine style, a big smile on his youthful face.

We saw a lot of Danilo di Luca wasting energy with meaningless attacks and pointless accelerations that amounted to nothing –other than cutting into his reserves for the harder mountain stages to come. As Denis Menchov, a much more savvy tour rider said, the real action comes on stage 16 and 17. While nervous riders like Di Luca rev the engine to gain a pitiful 3 seconds, Menchov and Leipheimer conserve every ounce of energy for when things get critical. As Leipheimer stated, he and Astana are in excellent shape compared to other  teams (read LPR Brakes and Liquigas) that have burned up all their matches.

The monster mountains are almost here. And we expect a very happy Simon Gerrans to give his all for Carlos Sastre.

Written by walshworld

May 25, 2009 at 4:49 am

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