Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Giro d'Italia: Pink Swaps Hands, Race Still Wide Open

On what has been described as the most beautiful finish in the most beautiful part of Italy, the man we all had down as stage favourite, Joaquim Rodriguez, rocketed to victory and in the process stole the pink jersey from the shoulders of Ryder Hesjedal. Almost half way in, how is that general classification shaping up...

With the Katusha rider now in pink, the team will be looking to hold onto it into the final week and beyond. Though a fantastic puncheur, Rodriguez is also a dab hand in the mountains, though does seem to struggle a little on the really gruelling stages compared with some of the other race favourites. He does look in good form this year though after his win in Fleche Wallonne and he certainly isn't getting any younger. A previous third place at the Vuelta a Espana proves Rodriguez is capable enough, but its fast becoming a case of now or never.

The top 15 looks like this:
1Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team40:27:34 
2Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda0:00:17 
3Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:32 
4Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team0:00:52 
5Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team  
6Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:00:57 
7Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:01:02 
8Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:01:03 
9Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:01:09 
10Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling0:01:10 
11Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD0:01:11 
12Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox0:01:12 
13Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan0:01:25 
14Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling0:01:27 
15Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD

There is hardly any time in it as you can see, after all, this time last year Alberto Contador had blown everybody else out of the water but its a different race this year, there is more build up leading to the final week and the race has been better for it. Looking at the top 15, Ivan Basso, Frank Schleck, Michele Scarponi and Roman Kreuziger - the four main favourites - are all there but the race is so tight at the minute that there is only 5 minutes separating 1st and 45th, which is going to make for quite a finale come the high mountains in the final week. There are still riders like John Gadret well outside of the top 15 who are more than capable of performing well in the mountains.

Other than the favourites there are certainly some names in that top 15 to keep your eye on. Rigoberto Uran of Team Sky has found himself in tenth spot without drawing any attention to himself - we know how well the Columbians can climb, but Uran also has a pretty decent Time Trial in him. The final week appears to suit him very well. In much the same position is teammate and fellow countryman Sergio Henao. They could well help each other come the final week.

An article written today over at CycleSport suggests that on current form, Domenico Pozzovivo could destroy his fellow competitors in the mountains next week as Contador did before him. Apparently he was pushing out a phenomenal 6.1 watts per kilo of power on the final climb of stage 9, which is .2 more than Contador and Andy Schleck put out on the Tourmalet in the 2010 Tour de France. The big danger for Pozzovivo was Denmark, that's been and gone and the Colnago team find themselves in a fantastic position in this years Giro, a position that if you had offered to them before the Giro began, they would have took your hand off accepting. If Pozzo can put in a decent final Time Trial, then he could well be in with a credible chance.

What is for certain is this Giro d'Italia still has plenty to offer, in fact, its only just getting started...

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