Today's live coverage (below) included everything I can think to say about the stage itself, but let's look briefly at where it leaves the contenders:
- Ivan Basso -- Looking almost invincible. Sure, there's a long way to go, but it's mostly uphill, and he decisively won the only serious climbing stage to date. The worst you can say about his chances, other than it ain't over til it's over, is that his stage win was on a day with two serious climbs, not seven, so he hasn't proven his dominance in everything just yet.
- Jose Gutierrez -- With a nice time trial and his placing (with Cunego) in the first gruppetto behind Basso at Passo Lanciano, Gutierrez is showing fine form and a solid shot at a podium. Still, he's been a stage hunter before this year, and his fourth overall in the Tour de Georgia is nice but unconvincing.
- Serguey Gonchar: A former Giro champ, can't be overlooked. I'm a bit clueless on him, but will guess that there's a reason nobody ever mentions him in the big climbs. Watch and learn, I suppose.
- Paolo Savoldelli: Got the combined jersey sewn up and a clear shot at points too. Also Saturday's stage is made for him... but that's where the good news ends. Well, unless you consider his teammate...
- Tom Danielson: He could animate the climbs. He could also go stage hunting. That's the luxury of being 5:38 down.
Anyway, the rest of the list can hardly be called contenders. Draw your own conclusions.... links on the flip:
- Get your race reports: Old Faithful CN, or the more colorful Pez version, or the inside scoop from BiciRace, or the Ullrich-centric musings of Eurosport.
- A nobody named Carlos Castano from continental Kaiku squad stole the thunder at the queen stage of the Volta a Catalunya today. He's got little on his resume, but now has a host of big names in his wake. The race doesn't end for three more days, but with 1:18 on 2nd place Santi Botero, he should roll home over the modest course. Wow!
- To the team sites: T-Mobile talks with the Franchise, and Ullrich gets extra props from his rainbow-striped mate Rogers.
- Is it a Danish thing, or can CSC only issue canned banal quotes regardless of what happened?
- Oh, and for the rest of the Giro, I'll be moonlighting at BiciRace as a guest columnist.
- Whoops... almost forgot that Prof Wilcockson filed his updated forecast, which looks awfully prescient, except for the fact that it didn't show up until after the ITT ended. TC, when you take over as interactive editor, you'll iron this out, right?