Michele Scarponi’s timing is ever so slightly off. By about a bike length.
Halfway up the finishing climb to Montevergine di Mercogliano, a steady, almost 16k grind, Scarponi and the rest of the contenders let Bart De Clercq (Omega Pharma-Lotto) jump away.
The grade is just 5% but there are ramps at 10% and Scarponi figured De Clercq would die somewhere. A generally smart calculation and when the Italian attacked hard in the final K, taking all the big guns with him, de Clercq looked doomed.
The helicopter shot showed a single file line of riders blasting up hill. The motorcycle shot of De Clercq showed a man losing speed and hope. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Stefano Garzelli and Vincenzo Nibali were locked on Scarponi’s wheel and going full-gas. In the final hundred meters, most bets were on Scarponi’s exceptional timing.
Only he miscalculated and came up one bike length short. Somehow, the less than famous De Clercq just crawled across the line first. He’s more famous now and Omega Pharma Lotto continues to surprise with their daily attacks and fourth place in the opening team time trial.
Dutchman Pieter Weening also hung tough on the climb, finishing in the main group, maglia rosa safely on his shoulders for another day. That’s excellent news for Rabobank.
The Geox squad however recieved some bad publicity today. The leaked Tour de France “suspicious” list had their Giro contender Denis Menchov at the top of the list. The Russian scored an impressive 9 out of 10 — Alberto Contador earned a 5 and Andy Schleck a 3. Only Carlos Barredo and Yaroslav Popovych scored a perfect, totally suspicious 10.
It’s Friday the 13th and Michele Scarponi had some bad luck. An almost Giro stage victory. The real thing went to De Clercq — 13 is now his lucky number.