Giro d'Italia: One day left for the sprinters
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Giro d'Italia: One day left for the sprinters

by Steve Jones at 4:36 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 

Danilo HondoThe Giro d’Italia will look forward to the race’s final flat stage tomorrow, but after more than two weeks of surprises, it’s anyone’s guess as to how it will turn out.  Today’s seventeenth stage was won by Cofidis rider Damien Monier, who was part of a break that got away early in the stage.  The 19 riders worked well to keep their advantage until until 15 kilometers to race, when the Frenchman got away with two others to claim the podium of the day.

Today’s relatively easy mountain stage was Monier’s first win as a professional, but that wasn’t the biggest surprise of the day.  Crossing the line 39 seconds after the Frenchman was Lampre-Farnese Vini sprinter Danilo Hondo, who was an active part of the trio that rode away from the break.  The German would have been expected to roll in with “the laughing group”, as it’s called, that finished more than 18 minutes after the stage winner, but instead found himself at the sharp end of the stage.

One would think that Hondo had this stage marked off as a day to conserve energy since it preceded the race’s final flat stage.  Not only that, but he is now the team’s number one sprinter following the abandon of team leader Alessandro Petacchi.  Instead he showed that he was on super form with an impressive ride that could very well cost him a win in tomorrow’s stage.  The mountains are difficult regardless of the speed you ride them, but Hondo will have emptied his tank considerably more than the other sprinters to earn his second place finish.

Nearly 10 minutes later Michele Scarponi led the group of overall favorites home, and snatched a second back on the other overall favorites.  World champion Cadel Evans looked to have lost the wheel of maglia rosa David Arroyo in the final meters, and Alexandre Vinokourov was forced to come around him to close the gap.  Last weekend Evans showed signs of weakness in the mountains, but was able to recover and ride well in the brutal Plan de Corones time trial yesterday.  The Australian will hope for an easy day tomorrow as he Giro d’Italia gets ready to take in its final dose of mountains towards the end of the week.

Tomorrow’s stage should end in a field sprint, with HTC-Columbia’s Andre Greipel and Rabobank’s Graeme Brown the two sprinters to watch.  Hondo will have a lot of morale after today’s ride, so he won’t lack the motivation to go for the win.  Bbox Bouygues Telecom’s William Bonnett, Garmin-Transitions’ Julian Dean and Team Sky’s Greg Henderson are the other riders to watch, but in this Giro d’Italia it wouldn’t be surprising to see Saxo Bank pull off another upset with a win by Sebastian Haedo.

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