Wednesday, May 25, 2011

With the Conclusion Forgone, I'm Gone

With the lovely weather we've been having here in the Midwest over the last few days, my in-laws have decided it would be a good time to head down to the lake and spend a few days together. Besides the facts that the lake is flooded, the boat lift has no power, and the weather isn't supposed to be particularly nice this weekend;

Break out the hibachi and the flip flops.I will also have no access to the thread that keeps society from collapsing into all out anarchy - the internet. Due to this, I will be unable to watch the last three stages of the Giro as well as report on them. I will be back to posting next Wednesday, the 1st day of June, though without any mention of how the Giro ended because by then no one will care anymore about the second best grand tour. What I can do for you now is recap the past two stages and give my most educated guess at who will be wearing the maglia rosa on a shopping spree in downtown Milan on Sunday.

Tuesday's stage 16, a 'mountain time trial', provided the opportunity for climbers to chip away at AC's seemingly insurmountable lead. French mountain goat and AG2R rider John Gadret, already a stage winner in this year's Giro, seen here communicating telepathically with his bike and praying that his knees don't fall apart on the course:

Don't fail me now old bones!Was only able to muster a 16th place finish 1:27 back of the eventual stage winner and alien impersonator AC:

I won again!AC's other competitors, including Italians Vincenzo Nibali and Stefano Garzelli didn't fare much better:

Better luck next year.
At least the green looks good.Nibali stopped the clock 34 seconds adrift (technically he stopped the clock 5:26 before AC, as the last 15 riders were separated by three minute intervals and Nibali was two riders ahead of AC, but that is neither here nor somewhere other than Italy) and Garzelli was 12 seconds slower than that. As the race continues to unfold, it becomes more and more evident that the Giro erupted on Etna as AC stormed to the stage victory and put his mark on this, the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification. In celebration of that fact, Aqua & Sapone rider and current Italian National Champion, Giovanni Visconti, is wearing bib number 150, instead of wearing bib number 151 which the team leader would normally wear (team leaders wear bibs ending in 1, the first one or two digits differentiate between teams). Despite his climbing ability, he posed no threat in stage 16 and finished over 2 minutes off the pace:

Classic Italian.Of course, he could have been saving his energy for today's stage in hopes of joining the day's break and pulling off the stage victory. Actually, after watching the stage I have a feeling that is exactly what he did. Unfortunately, while he did cross the line first today, he didn't win the stage. It is true that rubbing is racing, but shoving the guy in front of you out of the way isn't considered rubbing by the UCI:

This is my spotlight!After race officials reviewed the tape, Visconti was relegated to third and the stage victory was awarded to Lampre's Diego Ulissi.

As promised, here is my pick to win this year's Giro d'Italia (drum roll please):

Michele Scarponi.

Call me crazy, but I just don't see CAS upholding the RFEC's decision on AC. I personally don't think he cheated (yes he broke the rules by having clenbuterol in his system, but with cheating there is an implied sense of deliberately performing/not performing an action in order to gain an upper hand. If his story of the tainted meat is true, than his ingestion of the drug was not intentional), but I find it hard to see how CAS can overlook the rules in the case of the sport's biggest star when there is so much talk about how cycling needs to clean itself up. We'll see, hopefully AC is cleared and goes on the win the TdF and pull off the double. As much as a little parody in cycling would be good, it would also be 'epic' to see a rider pull off the double in this day and age.

Of course if he does go on to win both races this year, I actually wouldn't have watched it because I'll be in Backwoods, USA this weekend with no connection to the world.

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