While I am sorry that the original plan to retrace the original 1949 Cuneo - Pinerolo stage didn't quite work out, I still commend the organizers for trying, and for evoking dreams of what must have been a glorious stage. Back in '49 Fausto Coppi seized complete control of the race in which he'd been biding his time for a while, sauntering away from Gino Bartali on the Colle della Maddalena... never to be seen again, at least not in any mortal terms. Today, the words "Cuneo to Pinerolo" carry a certain mystique dating back to that day and the coronation of the Campionissimo.
But that's not what makes this stage so great. Mystique is for pre-race blog posts; when the flag goes up tomorrow what will mean so much is the battle on the road. With two major alpine ascents and a third kicker (plus apparently a sharp hundred meters just before the line) will create opportunities for riders to state their case for the maglia rosa. Danilo Di Luca's Lpr team will be hard-pressed to tow their leader over Sestrieres and keep his slim lead alive. Should the Killer make it up with the leaders, then the finale sets him up for another time bonus. But if the bigger name GC guys like Basso, Leipheimer, Sastre and Menchov want to turn up the heat today, then we shall really have a race on our hands.
My pick today... Joaquim Rodriguez. Enjoy!!