Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If you've been reading this blog, or any cycling related website for that matter, recently than you know that a pretty big bike race is currently underway in a far and mysterious land - Italy. Actually, Italy is so far away that as I write this post on Wednesday, the Italians are celebrating the end of the work week (or they just stopped working midweek, which I wouldn't put past them). If you are reading this post from the east coast of the US than you too are well ahead of us here in Kansas, but mostly in all the other markings of a modern society and not so much in time.

In a tribute to Wouter Weylandt, stage four of the Giro was neutralized and each team took a turn at the front as the peloton bid farewell to one of its own. In the final couple kilometers LEOPARD-TREK took the lead and crossed the line with American, and good friend of Weylandt, Tyler Farrar:

After the stage both Farrar and LEOPARD-TREK understandably departed the race.

I today's stage five there was a spectacular crash involving the Rabobank rider Tom Slagter. He will abandon the race but luckily he was not seriously injured.

Stage five presented the riders with a clear day and some dusty Strade Bianche:

Pick your poison, last year's addition featured a mud pit over the Strada Bianche.Throughout the entire stage the Eurosport commentators continued to drool over Liquigas' Vincenzo Nibali and his ability to descend. Photographic evidence from last year's Tour of Lombardy would prove otherwise though, unless by ability the commentators meant his ability to adapt to conditions and experiment with new lines. One man who was able to descend well enough to stay away until there were only 10 kilometers left to race was BMC's Martin Kohler, possible heir to the Kohler faucet fortune. He went on a solo attack and not only descended well enough, but climbed well enough that he earned himself the climber's jersey:

He's going to need one of those faucets to wash off all the dust he accumulated during today's stage.He was eventually reeled in by AG2R's John Gadret and the stage winner and current Maglia Rosa wearer, Peter Weening (not pronounced wienering, there is no "r" in his last name):

Is it too obvious to put a 'weening!' joke in here?Prior to Weening and Gadret's effort to bridge up to Kohler, another duo attempted the same thing, only with less impressive results:

You've got to get low in the ditch or else you'll be sucked away!Quickstep's Dario Cataldo took time out of his busy schedule to show his breakaway compatriot, Rabobank's Bram Tankink, how to properly take cover in a roadside ditch during a tornado. While this is an important lesson for someone from the American Midwest, I fear that his willingness to impart such knowledge did little to further his goal of doing well during the Giro.

Back to Weening (only because that is a fun name to say every time I type it), why does he (and all Rabobank riders for that matter) look so large on his bike?

It's like he went to the Jens Voigt neutral support bike school of bike fitting.Seriously, is that a conscientious decision the manager of that team makes when selecting riders, or when fitting riders to bikes? Either way it worked out for them today, now we'll see if Weening (ha!) can do a better job of holding on to the lead than David Millar did. I understand bike racing is difficult and only a few riders are cut from the correct lycra to be competitive in the GC, but in all fairness yesterday's stage was not a difficult ride (physically, and I do understand the toll and drain of emotions on the human body) and today's stage only contained a few category three climbs. Suffering is as suffering does, right:

Great ride in stage 3 to earn it, but you've got to give it up now.Tomorrow brings stage six and 216 kilometers of road almost tailor made for a breakaway favoring a strong rider like Vino. With no real climbs, but a lot of ups and downs, it should provide an exciting day of racing. Now that I think about it, that stage is probably already over since Italy is so far ahead; depending on how things go I might just report on the final time trail in Milan come Friday.

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