Danilo di Luca (LPR BRakes) did everything inhumanly possible to shake Denis Menchov (Rabobank), get him off his wheel and win this Giro. It was like an Italian version of the Paul Simon song, “50 ways to leave your lover.” He attacked at least five times — from the base on Vesuvio to the summit. You have to respect his efforts and he tried everything.
On a few occasions, Di Luca looked over at the impassive Menchov as if to say, “look, what do you want–money, girls, a speedboat, a villa in Tuscany– I’ll give you whatever you want, just get off my wheel.” But no suck luck. In the sprint to the finish line, di Luca gained an 8 second time bonus but that’s not going to dislodge the Russian.
Carlos Sastre (Saxo Bank) again proved he’s the best pure climber in the Giro, taking his second stage. A valiant effort but not effort to gain a step on the podium. If not for his his won admitted mistake on the Blockhaus stage, he would surely be in the top three.
It was a day of managed expectations for Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer (Astana). A crash took Lance down and that drained whatever energy he had for an attack. For Levi, it was a typical Giro mountain stage, always in the front groups but never having the fitness to drive the pace.
It’s interesting to compare Armstrong and Basso, two riders in their first grand tour after several years. Lance returns from three years of inactivity and plenty of Lone Star beer while Basso served a 2 year drug suspension. You could argue that given the long layoff, broken collarbone and support riding for Levi, that Lance is having an amazing Giro. All that and he’s 5 years older than Basso and sat out one more year. Basso is currently 5th and Lance is 12th on GC. Lance is duh man.
Look for the never-say-die Di Luca to give it another go tomorrow. He’s the Energizer Bunny of the Giro.