As we quickly approach the first Grand Tour of the year, talk, as it always has, will eventually turn to the subject of performance enhancing drugs.
Most of it will consist of badly thought out pieces in the mainstream media as the seasonal game of taking cheap potshots at cycling from afar comes into full force to coincide with the handing over of the first Maillot Jaune. Podium Cafe, however, is not the website for posting anti-cycling ramblings, so instead I give you a predictive look at a full day of the 2014 Giro d'Italia (with badly thought out ramblings instead). Please read on.
After yesterday's 70km solo breakaway winner and new leader had posed for pictures in the early morning sun with his fans, werepeatothersitescyclingstories.com managed a few words with the still smiling Yellow Fluo Italian domestique.
Us- Firstly, congratulations on your win.
Him- (All the following answers have been translated into English) Thank you.
Us- There are suggestions in some quarters that as a first year pro, your victory is suspicious.
Him- We at Vini Fantini believe....
Us- Excuse me but you ride for Yell....
Him- Yes. We at Yellow Fluo believe in clean cycling and that is why it is ok.
Us- I see. Is it true you tried to have your name changed before the Giro to Luca Di Santa Mauro?
Him- No. It was a lie started by my manager who is trying to get me a big contract with Team Alonso.
Us- Even so, you escaped with OPQS's last minute replacement for Rigoberto Uran, Tony Martin, with 120km's to go and left him at the 70km remaining mark and beat him home by 27 min 34 sec and he in turn had 3 sec over the peloton. How do you account for this?
Him- I was on a good day.
Us- Well thank you for talking to us here at werepeatothersitescyclingstories.com and good luck in holding on to the Maglia Rosa.
Him- Grazia (This was not translated)
Now onto today's stage.
The stage started in kind conditions as the peloton rolled out of the small village of Dublin (one of the extra stages added because of the unexpected eruption of the Snæfellsjökull volcano in Iceland), and headed west towards the imposing Wicklow Mountains where the daunting category 1 Tibradden Mountain (467m) awaited the nervous riders. The leader was resplendent in his hot pink jersey, green fluro pants and the equally irredescent orange socks borrowed from a watching CCC Team Polsat Polkowice rider and the new private coach of the current leader, Davide Rebellin.
After a very fast first five hours where none of the big teams were happy with the composition of any of the attempted breakaways, the peloton finally allowed 4 riders who were deemed to be no threat escape up the road and build a lead of1:34 as they approached the foot of the final climb of the day.
The 4 riders were: Nicola Boem (Bardiani CSF), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Ivan Basso (Cannondale), and Simone Ponzi (Yellow Fluo) who was trying to score his first FS VDS points of the year.
Though the organisers were initially concerned with finishing the stage on the notoriously difficult Little Sugar Loaf climb (1.3km starting at 301m above sea level and maxing out at 342m and an average of 2.7%), they should be congratulated on their foresight. The 37 fans along the route were subjected to a fascinating duel as first one and then another and then another and then another of the 4 breakaway companions attacked. It must have seemed like a lifetime to Basso as he danced on the pedals trying to outlast his opponents, but it was not to be. After 1 minute and 36 seconds of climbing what the locals call 'an bhalla' (the wall), Basso, only 30 metres short of the line, was caught and passed by the scheming Ponzi, who took another victory for the men in yellow. A dejected Evans crossed the line to finish third. He later explained his lack of a finishing kick being down to his poor preparation for the Giro because his DS's at BMC thought it would be a good idea to send him on a 24hr round trip to Tacoma, Washington two days before the Giro started. Evans however stated that it wasn't a complete waste as "Teejay really enjoyed the cookies I purchased from his favourite bakery in Prospect Hill."
On returning to the hotel we bumped into Eurosports very own Sean Kelly and shared a lift to the 3rd floor. We asked Sean what he thought of the Giro so far and he kindly responded with a full answer even going as far to keep the lift doors open whilst he finished his thoughts. Unfortunately our translator was not with us so we have no idea what he said but are sure it was insightful.
With all of the airliners still having no choice, due to the ash cloud covering Ireland, but to keep their planes grounded, the next stage will be held on the foredeck of the ferry from Rosslare to Cherbourg. Organisers RSC Sports released a statement this evening reiterating that the whole race would be completed though some more stages may take place on boats.
We hope you have enjoyed our wrap of today's stage here at werepeatothersitescyclingstories.com. Please note we may not be able to provide a live text coverage of tomorrows stage as we suffer badly from seasickness.