Since there hasn't been a ton of movement between the favorites, I'll do this a bit on the brief side, and in groupings. This is not in order of likelihood of victory...
Chomping at the Bit
- Riccò -- Excellent one-two work with Piepoli today, demonstrating the Cobra's ongoing aggressiveness (despite his busted wrist) as well as the beauty of having a top lieutenant who can make hay on the climbs. Probably the top Italian contender at this point, depsite his injury sandbagging.
- DiLuca -- Il Killer showed what makes him so interesting today: gritting his teeth in defiance of his own body, willing himself not to crack. This kind of grinta is what makes him a great classics rider. But grinta won't cut it on the Mortirolo, alas. Also, chasing a teammate... it's business time at LPR.
- Menchov -- I'll add him here: he looked like he wanted to try something today. This is encouraging for a GC guy who can also time-trial. If he's approaching his Vuelta-winning form, he's a real threat.
- Suitsou -- Very aggressive. He and Possoni are both right in the midst of the contenders overall. Doesn't make him a favorite, but so far, so good.
- (Anker) Sorensen -- Ditto for him; looking good. Still a solid pick for best young rider.
- Sella! -- Terrific stage today but for the tragic, last KM puncture. Is there any doubting he cares? Ominous sign: hunting stage wins and KOM points doesn't usually translate into GC, though I wouldn't bet against it yet.
- Simoni -- Careful not to show anything yet. He pretty much rides the same race at the Giro every year, focusing solely on the last week. Sounds odd, but it's worked twice and might one more time.
- Pellizotti -- Disastrous week for him off the bike, once the media discovered his likeness to Jennifer Grey. On the bike, however, he had some fun in pink and held his position just fine. Call it a split.
- Soler -- Crashes made for a miserable start and a two-minute deficit to Contador. Not his fault, and he might still go berserk in the Dolomites. Stay tuned.
- Nibali -- Nice job picking up some time (a minute or thereabouts) on the foreign contenders, save for Contador. He and Pellizotti have been a little more attentive to their GC placing this week, which is smart: like DiLuca and the Dolphin, they'll need those seconds (and more) later.
- Contador -- Aggressive today? More like defensive, just making sure nobody gets any serious amount of time. For his efforts here and earlier, he's managed to put a minute or two into almost everyone except the Chomping list up above. If you're sitting in the peloton, do you feel good about this?
- Kloden -- Quiet. Almost too quiet.
- Leipheimer -- Ditto.
- Pfannberger -- Ditto again. Insurance against Soler's bruises, but most likely just a plan B rider.
- Rujano -- because it's nice out and I'm in a good mood, I haven't consigned him to palookaville, where he probably belongs. But he's 14 minutes behind Contador. Game, set...
- Ardila -- nice to see him on the attack, but ultimately lost time to some bigger names, and is now already 3' down on guys he probably wasn't going to beat anyway. Not looking good.
- Karpets -- ditto here too.
- Perez Cuapio -- Almost an hour out of the maglia rosa. I didn't see what happened. Anyone?