The final kilometers of Stage 4 in the Giro d’Italia presented several thrilling attempts at victory and a dramatic contrast in two riders. That would be Italian Danilo de Luca (Vini Fantini) and Frenchman Sylvain Georges (AG2R)
A former Giro winner and convicted doper, the 37 year old Di Luca made his bid for glory with roughly ten kilometers to go. His career is winding down but he and his TV priest must have decided the stage from Poliscastro to Serra San Bruno was a good one to play protagonist.
He attacked and pulled out Colombia’s Robinson Chalapud for company. At one point, they had maybe 20 seconds on the chase and he fought until the final 300 meters. We might not see much of Di Luca this Giro but it was a blast from the past, say back in 2009, when he finished a dirty second.
That result was later wiped out because of doping but Di Luca still has dazzling playboy hair and occasionally great legs. A valiant effort and a remembrance of things past because Marcel Proust loved the Giro. Di Luca is part of the dying breed, the pre-biological passport generation. The Killer is a shadow of his homicidal self.
On the other side of the coin, is the young Frenchman Sylvain George. In the rain and mist, the AG2R rider also took his shot with 19k to go. A strong climber, he punched his lead out to a minute before things heated up behind him.
George isn’t afraid to take his chances and roll the Vegas dice. Last year in the Tour of California he won the stage to Big Bear Lake with an impressive 50k solo ride. On the final straight uphill drag, George nearly died as thousands of fans went berserk trying to will him to an underdog victory.
You could see the entire chasing peloton screaming uphill behind him, yet he valiantly held on. There was still lipstick on his cheeks from his podium girl kisses when he took questions at the post-stage press conference.
This time, Georges didn’t manage to pull off a Giro stage win and it was Di Luca himself that snuffed out that chance. Still, his career has plenty of good days ahead while Di Luca searches for his final moments of glory.