91st Giro - Stage 3: Bennati!

by Jack  

First let me start out by saying that I've backed myself into a corner and have set a precedent that I may not be able to sustain. This will be my 3rd straight post for the Giro and have started to establish daily updates. I'll try my best to continue this routine to at least the end of the Giro.

Today's stage was marked more for its crashes than anything else. A major spill in the middle of the stage brought down favorite Riccardo Riccó (Saunier Duval – Scott), David Millar (Slipstream Chipotle) and teammates Brad McGee and Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC). While Riccó rejoined the peloton, McGee had to abandon because of a broken collarbone. Although O'Grady finished the stage, he had to leave the Giro because of his own broken collarbone. Too bad for CSC.

Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) won today's stage by beating 80 year old (seriously, how old is he?) Erik Zabel (Milram) and Danilo Hondo (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) in a sprint. (Boy that's a long team name!)

Back at the finish, it was confirmed that Riccó broke his finger. There was clearly something wrong with him as he spent the majority of the remainder of the stage at the back of the peloton, staring at his hand whenever Italian TV showed him. CyclingTV's commentators kept commenting on this. They were clearly annoyed at how much of a baby Riccó acted. We'll see how this affects him later on.

Tomorrow's stage is a bit more interesting in that it includes another short but sharp climb before the finish. Look for another puncher to claim the day.

Bennati wins!

Top 10 Results for Stage 3:
1 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas.........................5.37.01
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
3 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni
4 Thomas Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner
5 Alberto Loddo (Ita) Tinkoff Credit Systems
6 Koldo Fernandez De Larrea (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
7 Tiziano dall'Antonia (Ita) CSF Group Navigare
8 Marlon Alirio Perez Arango (Col) Caisse d'Epargne
9 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team High Road
10 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Gerolsteiner

See the complete results here.

91st Giro - Stage 2: Zabriskie Out!

by Jack  

An exciting finish ended a very sad day for Americans and the Slipstream-Chipotle team on the 2nd stage of the Giro. One of America's best riders, David Zabriskie, crashed out today with a broken L1 vertabrae. News reports describe the injury as not serious. But it's a disappointing blow for his team as he would have been a serious contender for the time trials to come.

Italian Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) won today's stage after outsprinting his rivals including Davide Rebellin and defending champ Di Luca. Italian Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), 4th on today's stage, took over the pink leaders jersey by 1 second over American Vande Velde. The top 6 riders were able to gap the rest of the peloton and were able to gain some valuable seconds over other contenders like Astana's Klöden, Contador and Leipheimer. The big loser of the day was Columbian Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) who lost 54 seconds up the final short but steep rise to the finish.

I'm personally impressed with Riccò's win because he hasn't shown his form as of late. He's had some bad luck in the early season thanks to crashes, but clearly he's been training aggressively. I'm not too worried about the few seconds Astana lost because these sharp climbs are more suited for a punchy rider. All 3 of Astana's leaders are more suited for the long climbs of the higher mountains.

Tomorrow's stage 3 should be more for the sprinters. It'll probably be the typical long break away that gets absorbed a few kilometers from the end giving way to the speedsters. This being Italy, the stage will probably start out very slow. One of the biggest differences between the Tour de France and the Giro is the pace of the race. While it is not unusual for the average speed of a 100 mile stage to be around 30 mph at the Tour, Giro stages would be lucky to average above 20 mph for the first half. Something has to be said for the Italian way of life!

Riccò giving the winners salute. Credit: REUTERS

Top 10 results for stage 2:
1 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval - Scott..........5.48.35
2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
4 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
5 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) LPR Brakes
6 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
7 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des Jeux.............0.07
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas.............................0.08
9 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval - Scott
10 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana

See complete results here.

91st Giro - Stage 1

by Jack  

The Tour of Italy (or the Giro in cycling speak) started today in Sicily. Because the Giro has to stand out from the other grand tours, it started unconventionally with a team time trial. Lance Armstrong's team of old usually dominated this discipline so I expected Team Astana to do the same.

As usual, my day started early thanks to the time difference as I logged onto cycling.tv just before 9 am. This stage was a 23.6 km (14 miles) out and back course that was flat and would facilitate some fast times. As predicted, Slipstream-Chipotle burned rubber. McDonald's must have delivered some extra burritos because the extra salsa helped them win the stage with an average speed of over 56 km/h (33.5 mph)! Sure, they only finished with the minimum 5 riders and even burned David Miller to the waste side with 1 km to go, but they came to conquer the stage and that meant giving their all. It was tight on top of the leaderboard as the top 4 teams were separated by less than 10 seconds. Astana came in a respectable 7th, pretty good considering none of their riders even prepared for the Giro and finished with all 9 riders together. I, however, was a bit disappointed with that placing. C'mon Levi!

Astana training on the TTT course.

At the end of the day, Christian Vande Velde becomes the first American to wear the maglia rosa (the Giro's version of the yellow jersey, which is pink) since Andy Hampstem became the one and only winner of this event back in 1988. It's always a good day when an American shows the European's how it's done.

Tomorrow's 2nd stage would be anything but the conventional sprinters stage. It undulates through the northern shores of Sicily and ends with an uphill push in Agrigento. This would favor an attacking rider such as World Champ Paolo Bettini or even defending champ Di Luca. Back to Astana for a moment. I tend to think they are holding their cards tightly amongst themselves. I believe there's some form on that team and we'll be able to see that displayed as the Giro moves forward. Stay tuned...

Top 7 results for Stage 1
1. Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30
2 Team CSC
3 Team High Road
4 Liquigas
5 Barloworld
6 LPR Brakes - Ballan
7 Team Astana

See complete results here.

Bike Month NYC 2008

by Jack  

Link: http://www.bikemonthnyc.org/

Did you know that May is Bike Month here in New York City? If you ride the subways you will see the ads plastered on the train cars. It's a great initiative to get people out and on their bikes. Bike New York's 5-borough tour, the ride my wife and I did last week was one of the major events. All of this bike talk reminds me of what my favorite NYC ride is.

The most thrilling bike route in Manhattan for me is on 5th Avenue from E. 90th St south to you name it! It was always a way for me to inject some excitement to the end of my ride in Central Park. As some of you know, riding around and around the park can be a bit boring, kind of NASCAR like. So when my ride ends, I exit the park at E. 90th and continue south on 5th. The thrill comes immediately. As I ride past 86th St, I know the transverse is near, meaning a boat load of cars wanting to cut me off. Then comes the Met, ah those tourists. The Met is very challenging in that you never know when a cab will want to pull over to the curb. Couple that with the ubiquitous tour buses and you have the game of Frogger! But that's not it. Do some of these tourists know to look both ways before crossing? Nothing is more embarrassing than crashing, I mean bumping, into a tourist after using your ninja-like reflexes to avoid a few tons of steel!

Okay, so that only gets me to E. 79th St, another transverse, ditto. From there, it's E. 72nd St. This intersection is not too hard because there's no transverse. You do, however, want to avoid those damn buses turning from 72nd and immediately gunning for that bus stop on 5th. But they have the right of way, you say? Duh! Red light = ride faster to avoid the oncoming traffic!

Please wear a helmet.

The ride can go on and on, but I chose to turn off of 5th to head home (no, I don't live on the UES anymore). Plus, you get the picture. And please, safety first. I don't recommend this unless you are a NYC bike messenger.

Do you have a favorite ride in NYC? If so, let's hear about it.

91st Giro Start List

by Jack  

RCS recently announced the official start list of this year's Giro. Arguably the hardest Grand Tour on paper will be off to a rock'n start just based on who will be lining up on May 10th. You can view the start list here.

As you can see, Astana is bringing everyone including the kitchen sink in order to prove they are the strongest stage race team. What will make it hard is the fact that these such riders have not had any formal preparation for this competition. Typically, riders train for months in advance of a 3 week tour so a lot will be unknown. Some good signs include Kloden's recent win at the Tour de Romandie and the early season successes of both Contador and Leipheimer. I'll be watching closely on cycling.tv.

I personally would be interested in seeing how 36 year old Gilberto Simoni does. I've always been impressed with the way he rides in the Giro. Despite his growing age, he always seems to shine in his home tour. Other top picks of course, include defending champ Danilo Di Luca but I personally think he's a one hit wonder in grand tours. Speaking of one hit wonders, you can add Jose Rujano to that list too. Apparently, having pressure is not his cup of tea as he hasn't done sh*t since the '05 Giro.

As I continue to browse up and down the start list, no team really stands out other than Astana. Di Luca's team is untested but they do have 2-time winner Paolo Savoldelli waiting in the wings if DiLuca falters. Saunier Duval-Scott will bring a stacked team including Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli but they can't seem to challenge for the GC so it will be stage wins only. Too bad CSC won't bring Andy Schleck as he would have added another dynamic to the race. But I'll be rooting for the 2 US based teams, High Road and Slipstream Chipotle to do good things. They won't be GC contenders but stage wins are more than possible.

So we have it. A stacked field for the Giro in terms of individual cyclists but no one team seemingly strong enough to control things except for Astana. For most people, this makes for an exciting race. Stay tuned as I follow the race and provide my personal highlights and opinions to all.

Ciao!

Latest from the Pro Peloton

by Jack  

Some quick facts from the world of professional cycling...

Astana's Andreas Kloden won the Tour de Romandie today. Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) won today's final state in a sprint. This race closes a great early season for Astana and showed ASO how big of a mistake they made by excluding this team for this year's Tour de France. In light of the recent successes, the Giro d'Italia has now invited to team to compete in the race, which starts this weekend. Astana will bring it's A-list team with '07 Tour winner Alberto Contador, 3rd place American Levi Leipheimer and Kloden. Go Astana!

Bike New York - The Aftermath

by Jack  

We're back, we did it. In all, we rode for 51 miles today, including the extra miles getting to the start and getting home from the end. I'm too tired to write more. I will update this post later with some images.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Ok, I'm back. It's been 6 days. My wife and I have fully recovered though we can't commit to when we'll be back on our bikes again. This ride was indeed a personal triumph for us.

Full story »

Bike New York - 5 Borough Tour!

by Jack  

Link: http://www.bikenewyork.org

My wife and I are getting ready to do the 5 borough bike tour here in New York City tomorrow morning (see the link). We've been busy trying get some miles in for the last month. It's been hard, the weather hasn't been as warm as we'd like so we are very short on training. Of course, we've been trying to save the legs as often as possible.

For those of you that aren't familiar with this ride, it is a yearly event that takes ten's of thousands of riders through the closed streets of Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and yes, Staten Island. Though, we barely touch The Bronx and Staten Island. It is 42 miles through the canyons of Manhattan, the concrete of the FDR and the steel of some of New York City's most famous bridges. We start in lower Manhattan and travel up 6th Avenue, through Central Park, up into Harlem and over into The Bronx. From there, we return into Manhattan, ride south on the FDR and the cross over into Queens via the Queensboro Bridge. Astoria Park is next where there is a huge festival. Then it's due south through Brooklyn. We travel on the BQE making our way towards the Verrazano Bridge. From there, we cross over into Staten Island where the finish line is.

I'm out of breath, so wish us luck!

My First Post

by Jack  

Hold your horses! My first post is coming soon! It's taking me a while to figure this b2evo out but I think I have it stable enough to start posting. But don't hold me to it as the site could go down at any moment I decide to "play" with it.

Some of the things I'm still working on include the template and skin (look) of the front end, categories and what exactly I want to talk about. Should the subject be targeted or include a wide array of topics as what I'm stating in the "about" page?

Feel free to comment!

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