Giro d'Italia: Off to Italy after a brutal two days
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Giro d'Italia: Off to Italy after a brutal two days

by Steve Jones at 9:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia

The third stage of the Giro d’Italia closed out its stint in the The Netherlands and managed to dish out some surprises once again.  There were several crashes during the race, but it wasn’t as bad as stage two, where it looked like the peloton was navigating through uncleared minefields left over from World War II.

Holland’s feared crosswinds off the North Sea showed up in full-force today, making the pancake flat stage a nervous one from the constant battle for position in the peloton.  The finale was a carbon-copy of yesterday’s finish, with a crash causing a split and catching out maglia rosa Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), with Spaniard Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) also being affected by a mishap for the second day in a row.

Evans lost 46 seconds from the incident, which was enough to make Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) the new leader in the overall, in the same way Evans was able to wrestle pink from Wiggins yesterday.  While every second gained will bring confidence to the overall contenders as they tick off days before the mountainous last week, there are still too many brutal stages on the horizon to draw any real conclusions.

Belgian Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) sprinted for the stage win ahead of Rabobank’s Graeme Brown, who’s quickly earning the nickname “Mr. Number 2”.  This was the frustrated Australian’s sixth runner-up slot this year.  This was good news for the young Quick Step rider, who hasn't won a race since stage three of Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen last March.  He has been under a lot of pressure from his team boss Patrick Lefevere this year, and his contract renewal for 2011 is far from certain.

Today was déjà vu for American Christian Vande Velde, as he was forced to abandon the race 30 kilometers from the finish with a broken collarbone.  It was during stage three of last year’s Giro d’Italia where his race also came to an abrupt halt.

Tomorrow will be a rest day for the peloton, as they were fortunately able to take a flight from Ostend, Belgium to Cuneo, Italy following the stage.  There was a chance that the volcanic ash from the Icelandic volcano would force them to spend the rest day travelling by bus, but fortunately the ground on air travel in northern Italy was lifted.

The events of the last two days will have the peloton looking forward to July when the Tour de France brings its Grand Depart to Rotterdam.  The Giro d’Italia will hopefully provide some lessons that will help to minimize the carnage in two months time, but it will again raise questions about whether it’s a good idea to cram a Grand Tour on roads that are suited for riders that specialize in the Classics.


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