Too much Pro Secco? Gossip is the cure! Alas, the Giro is over, but still we find some stories to brighten this sad Monday. And fear not, for with the Giro di Francia soon to come, there is sure to be gossip galore!
Retirement special. Both Bettini and Simoni have likely finished their last Giros. Or have they? When asked if he would ride next year, Bettini answered, "we will see." Lefevere has left the door open to a contract renewal if the il Grillo wishes it. Gianni Savio is also willing to see Simoni ride another year. So far, the Trentino smiles, and turns the subject. Prediction is not our strong suit here at the Gossip, but we can't help but suspect that at age 37, Simoni has indeed ridden his last grand tour and will retire as planned. Winless so far this season, Bettini may well do the same. But who are we to say?
No rest for the weary, though, as Simoni will now prepare to race the mountain bike world championship. Excellent training, that Plan de Corones.
Benna! Benna! Our favorite sprinter comes to America this week to contest the race formerly known as US Pro in Philly. Surely, this calls for a photo! His Liquigas team mates will also ride the other two races comprising the week formerly known as Philly week. Benna, he saves his legs for the biggest day. More often than not, this race ends in a sprint, so our chances of seeing more Benna podium photos look very, very good. Almost as good as Benna himself. Bellisimo!
Why are you smiling? Yesterday, 1.6 million Spanish viewers tuned in to watch the final crono of the Giro, for a 12% share. By comparison, Nadal at the French open received 9.3%, and last year's Tour where Contador wore the Giallo never received more than 10%. Quite a coup for the RCS, this decision to invite the "new Indurain." In Italy, this Giro also found quite a following, with a 43% share during the climb over the Mortirolo. About 3 million tuned in for the final crono. Phew. That was far, far too many numbers for the Gossip to take in. Basta!
Moving right along, with his temper tantrum on the Presalona Ricardo Ricco becomes the newest and leading member of the Lose Your Temper and Say Something Vulgar in Front of the Press Club. We, at the Gossip, cannot repeat his exact words, but we assure you, it was not nice. Ricco replaces former Club leader Gilberto Simoni, who earned his spot in the hall of shame by calling team mate Cunego a very un-nice name at the summit of Bormio 2000 during the 2004 Giro. Ricco has since apologized for his outbursts, saying he tries to count to ten, but it never works. He hopes to mature in time. Did Gibo ever apologize to Cunego? This, even the Gossip, does not know.
Where have you been? Franco Ballerini, who among other things is in charge of sorting out the Azurri for Worlds, says today that Ricco was the "surprise of the Giro." Color me confused. Here at the Gossip our only surprise was that it took nearly three weeks for the Modenese to lose his temper in public. One wonders what other surprises Ballerini will find in the coming months. That winners' jersey in France is yellow? That the Alpes are high? Do tell, Franco, do tell.
Speaking of France, newly crowned Giro winner says that he values this Giro win far more than a win at the Tour. Though he doesn't expect the ASO to change their mind about inviting him at this late date, even if they did, he wouldn't be able to ride to win after this Giro. Oh yeah? Well, I didn't want to come to your stupid party anyway. So there.
Tell us how you really feel, Signor Breukink. Erik Breukink, DS of Rabobank, says that Graeme Brown's Giro is a "huge disappointment." He publicly criticized the Aussie sprinter for failing to arrive on form to the romp around Italy. Masterful with the team morale, that Breukink. Maybe he's just cranky. In my day, we had to ride the Gavia uphill all the way in the snow. Then, we had to ride back down it. In the snow!
Sella's secret weapon? He will be married in nine days. Says Dutch cycling historian Benjo Maso, this was also the secret weapon of Jean Robic in 1947. "If I were a cyclist," Maso writes, "I would get married every season." Since this story was shamelessly stolen without permission, we now make a deposit in the Karma Bank, and urge loyal readers of the Gossip to seek out Maso's The Sweat of the Gods, a lovely and concise history of cycling, with an insightful emphasis on the myth-making involved. Because books are good.
Time Suck-o-matic. Forget minesweeper, it's all about cronofast, the new video game created by Saunier Duval. Clicky your mouse to send Peipoli or Ricco on the ride of their lives. Fail? And they dudsmak headfirst into the planet, animated legs flailing in the breeze. Hours of entertainment for the whole fan-dam-ly. How do you win? Really, I haven't a clue. Oh, and Ricco's favorite model is Pamela Anderson. Just thought you'd like to know.
Contract news! No edition of the Gossip is complete without contract news. Rinaldo Nocentini has renewed his contract with AG2R (Say it with me, Aaaah-Jaaay-Doooz-Air) for a year, with an option re-renew after next year. He has this year won the GP di Lugano, and placed second in the GC at Paris-Nice. Yes, my friends, re-renew is a word. Because I said so.
With that, we say, arrevederci to il Giro! Me, I am always so sad to go. But there is next year, and in the meantime, we have that race in France to distract us from the pain. Surely, there will be gossip, which always makes us happy even if we must leave behind our favorite country. Ah, bella, bella Italia, until next year, my friends!