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Checking In On the Teams

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Giro_mediumFirst, thanks to so many for the TT coverage today. We're onto a second post, and I've learned how to close comments on the live thread. We've also got our inaugural post from Tifosa, our on-staff, credentialed reporter live at the Giro! I feel like whatever I can say now will be at least 45% redundant. But that's never stopped me before, so...

Team Rankings ↑↔↓

1. Astana  ↑

Three riders spanning the top 10 of the GC right now means they are holding virtually all the cards. Sure, other teams have multiple contenders, but nobody anywhere near this kind of climbing class. As was mentioned in the comments earlier, Astana can just keep hammering away on all the other teams until they say Uncle. Or Contador can fly away on his own and end the entire race at the Alpe di Pampeago. Contador is still hurt, and Klöden isn't the surest bet on the mega-climbs, and Leipheimer is bringing up the rear. So it isn't over yet. But it's sort of like that scene in Independence Day (ugh) where the alien ships are moving into position: nobody's done got blowed up... yet.

2. LPR ↑

A distant second, perhaps, but no other team has three overall contenders and a time advantage over Contador. Gabriele Bosisio is a climber of sorts, and asking him to stay on the Accountant's wheel isn't necessarily asking the impossible. Or, well, maybe it is. He's never even attempted to chase the leaders of a grand tour through the mountains, let alone pull it off. Neither did Andy Schleck a year ago. In Bosisio's favor: his two teammates, both within shouting distance of the lead, have three Giro wins between them. But not thanks to their ability in the highest mountains. If Astana don't sweep the podium, I'd bet on the top LPR rider bagging a spot.

3. Saunier Duval ↓

Another distant following... SDV were looking pretty solid for a real challenge until today.  Riccò's problems in the ITT were about as expected, and he's been terrific all week, so I'd say he's not due much criticism right now (on the bike, anyway). The problem is that Astana didn't really leave him the opening he needs. Piepoli, at 10.16 down, is still within shouting range, so he remains the dangerous teammate Riccò needs to play the 1-2. Not over just yet.

4. Serramenti ↑

Nice job getting the Old Man into position, just as he'd asked. And he rewarded them with a fabulous ride today. This team is exactly where it wanted to be, apart from the whole looking-up-at-Contador thingy.

5. Liquigas ↔

Two GC guys are both ideally placed (usual Contador caveat). Nibali rode exceptionally well today, and Pellizotti held his own too. Neither figures to stay with the top climbers, but at least Leakygas have two guys with a puncher's chance at a top finish.

6-10. Lampre ↔, CSC ↔, Rabobank ↔, Quick Step ↑, High Road ↔

All of these teams have left themselves hoping against hope. Macho Mencho, winner of the most recent grand tour, probably won't make up 2' on Contador, and didn't bring a huge team to help him. Ardila's 14' back on GC, so he's more of a stage-hunter and lieutenant now. Same plan as Saunier Duval but with less quality. CSC and High Road both brought a cast of terrific riders not quite suited for the coming stages, so they're likely to just continue hanging around. Quick Step have the Maglia rosa and Mr. Useful, Garate, at the 12' mark... but the party should be over soon.

Next group on the road: Barloworld, CSF, Silence!, Slipstream, Gerolsteiner, Tinkoff... all teams with a dog left in the fight, but no clear path to anyplace.

Tourists: AG2R, Milram, FDJ, Caisse d'Epargne(!), Euskaltel... hoping the weather clears up so they can enjoy their training.