Rabobank team mechanic Vincent Hendriks will definitely be receiving a Christmas card from Denis Menchov this year. There’s a good chance there will be a big, fat check inside, too. Because Hendriks saved Menchov’s Giro victory by being instantly ready with a spare bike when the Russian crashed in the final kilometer of the time trial. After sliding 30 feet across the wet cobblestones, Menchov jumped to his feet to find Hendriks already there with bike #2. The well-prepared mechanic earned his pay for the entire year in that chaotic 10 seconds of crisis.
Menchov remounted, did a fire drill finish and promptly went nuts with joy, screaming, foaming at the mouth and howling at the sky. The stoic and emotionless Menchov released all the stress of the three week tour in one long outburst. The man earned it, nearly doing an imitation of Kevin Garnett after beating the Lakers for his first ring. Menchov wasn’t speaking in tongues but he was getting there.
Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) put in a valiant ride, out of the saddle for most of the 14.4 kilometer time trial through Rome. No one could seriously fault his tactics or combativeness and he was a class act in defeat. He finished 41 seconds back on GC and on the second step of the podium with Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) in third. The final stage reward would go to Cervelo’s Ignatas Konovalovas who edged out Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) by a second.
There will be many toasts at the bar for the Rabobank team tonight but the loudest cheers will be for Vincent Hendriks, the super mechanic for the maglia Rosa winner, Denis Menchov.