Sunday, May 24, 2009

2009 Giro d'Italia

I have been watching the 2009 Giro d'Italia on Universal Sports (NBC). They run a live feed over the internet in the mornings and then a two hour replay with two American commentators at Noon and 9 AM daily. I have been following the Giro for the past several year but there is been very little US TV coverage. Versus Network would usually cover the Sunday stages and recap the week on their Sunday Epic Cycle Show but this is first year that I have been able to watch ever stage. I think that I have Lance Armstrong to thank for this.

The Italian country side is even more spectactular than the French country side that is showcased in the Tour de France. The Italian continental teams really put a lot of effort into the Giro so there are several teams that are riding up front but will not be at the Tour de France. LPR Brakes is one of these teams. Danilo De Luca has had the Pink Jersey (the Giro uses Pink as the GC leader's jersey rather than Yellow like the Tour de France) for much of the race although he lost it to Denis Menchov of Rabobank who appears to be in a very good position to win.

Mr. Menchov was able to pull grap the Pink jersey by winning the long and hilly time trial of Stage 12. Unlike most time trials the riders rode on regular road bikes. Almost every rider had a different configuration. Some rode using normal bars, some added aero bars (like many triathaletes) and some went with Time Trial bikes. Some riders used time trial helmets but most went with the normal road helmets. While I am not usually a fan of the TT stages this was one that I was really interested in watching. It definitely did not disappoint.

The riders did stage a protest on stage 9 which was a circuit around Milan. The riders had decided that they had enough and made the race an unofficial rest day. Most club riders averaged a faster pace than the Peleton for most of this stage. Eventually the pace picked up and the last lap was very exciting with Mark Cavendish taking the stage win.

The Giro organizers have really gone for spectacular. Very few flat courses and lots of crazy climbs. Each week of the Giro as gotten harder. This final week looks to be the hardest. There will be several hard climbs and the last day is a time trial that may very well determine who the GC winner will be. At this point my money is on Denis Menchov. Although stage 17 (profiled above) could very well that. The contenders are going to have to attack.

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