We all have had plenty of nice things to say about Ivan Basso in his Giro victory by the largest margin since the invention of the clincher. Perhaps as we look at the vanquished, we could be charitable and leave it at that -- that Basso was just too good. Sure, we could just leave it at that...
Anyway, let's take a closer look at some of the more spectacular failures from this year's Giro d'Italia. On the flip:
In no particular order...
Danilo DiLuca: Some Classics riders might be happy with a 23rd place finish in this brutal Giro, nearly a full hour behind the winner. But not if they had thrown away their Classics season in order to win. I feel maddeningly uninformed about what really happened... bad form? bad health? bad luck somewhere? Anyway, I've long been on record as saying he didn't have a prayer on this parcours, but 58:50 back, in danger of finishing behind not one but two Jose Gutierrezes... WTF?!?
Update [2006-5-30 17:7:57 by chris]: Over at BiciRace, he's blaming his dentist, and threatening to use his Giro as a springboard for the Tour. Like I said, WTF?!?
- Gilberto Simoni: He was actually ready to assume the role of Honored Elder Statesman until he went off his meds and started hearing voices offering to sell him Stage 20. There's not a ton of honor in finishing 12 minutes back, and his ride confirms that when the road isn't going up, he's pretty helpless, but Simoni fought to the end, and at age 35, that probably would have been enough to satisfy fans and critics. Now, thanks to his annual insane plea-for-victim-status, he's headed to a grand jury to substantiate his claim that Basso was willing to throw an easy race for beer money... WTF?!?
- Damiano Cunego: The "Little Prince" nickname maybe rings a bit more wryly now... Truth is, the guy plain and simply cannot ride a time trial to save his freakin life. It's not entirely his fault, he's short and can't seem to find a position that is aerodynamic enough without losing all his power. I don't know why this can't be done with a smaller frame... Of course, he didn't exactly threaten Basso on any of the climbs either: 41 seconds back on the Corones mini-stage, 30 seconds back to San Pellegrino, 2:51 back to Aprica, etc. But that 5:31 lost on the time trial, where he finished behind a whole lot of domestiques... WTF?!?
- Paolo Savoldelli: It's hard to read into il Falco's Giro results, where he was usually next to blow up on the climbs after DiLuca, albeit with far less disastrous results. His fifth place overall sounds about right, given that this course was never going to suit him. But then again, this is the defending champ, with a great, seasoned team around him, and a chance to make plenty of mischief prior to the massive climbs that would've sorted him out in the end. Passo Lanciano was a good climb for him, as were the closing descents on stages 13 and 14, and he's always been a better time trialler than Basso. So is he old? Did he have crippling allergies? Did he just blow it? WTF?!?
- Jose Gutierrez: The revelation of the race with a solid second place, sealed by plenty of hard-fought efforts limiting what should've been major losses. And he came out of nowhere too. So why is he in an article about losers? Because that last sentence (the out-of-nowhere one) carries an automatic suspicion of doping these days (hello Raimondas Rumsas?), and if he did more than stop by Dr. Evil's clinic at Zurbato, 92, then he's really going to wish nobody ever heard of him.