Che Giro! We have had no lack of excitement in the first half of the most bestest of the grand tours. Sprints? Check. Sprints with drama? Double check. Breakaway chess games? Finishes in walled city plazas? Si, si, si! Really, we have had everything but a proper mountain stage, but I've been pretty happy with everything even without those.
But more more importantly, for the work at hand, the Giro has given us winners and losers galore. And that other stage race in California too, if you like that sort of thing. So, without further ado...
Taylor Phinney - The Kid has arrived. Or, more than he already had. Finally a grand tour stage win, and what a way to get it - clobbering Geraint Thomas in a prologue with everyone else not even on the map. Sure, he had some horrible luck over the next few days. But he's still in the Giro and getting better each day. Plus, he had not one, not two, but three girls at the Giro ask for his phone number this week.
Peter Sagan - Wins four out of five stages so far in Cali, and each one in a different kind of sprint. And the way he corners? It makes me swoony, and I usually fall for the fairer sex. Really, it's not just his power that wins, it's how he rides the finale. It's bedazzling.
Jens Voigt: Who else could use towing the peloton along for 100km the day prior as openers for a Time Trial? And finish second in a stacked field? At 40 years old, to boot.
Garmin-Barracuda - Two pink jersey wearers so far in the Giro and a stage victory. Plus Captain America won the time trial in the "Fourth Grand Tour." Bonus? Jonathan Vaughters and his boys in Cali were gifted a Rhubarb pie. Nobody else got that. So #weening.
People who looked at the road book before the day's stages - Peter Sagan, Roberto Ferrari, Thomas Vaitkus. Because, you know, it really is important to know what that corner 300m from the line is like so you can nail it and make the others look foolish.
Mark Cavendish - Fast, fast, fast. We've seen that this Giro. But man, this Manxman is locked in a love-hate relationship with gravity. You see, the ground just can't wait to reach up and caress the Brit. First, Roberto Ferrari careens into his front wheel, leaving him with a nasty case of road rash. Then, Pippo Pozzato takes Matthew Goss out in front of him. To add insult to injury, his leadout man Geraint Thomas totally botches the tight final turn two days later, killing Cav's momentum (though not taking him down. Yay intact skin!) and shot at victory. The guy needs a lucky talisman hella bad, even after winning two stages already.
Filippo Pozzatto - The British Eurosport announcers' response to the carnage in the final corner of Tuesday's stage sums up everything: "Pippo, what are you doing?" You see, the neon clad Italian cut to the inside of the tight final corner and some not-quite-seen shenanegains (thanks to some trees blocking the helicopter shot) happened, taking down Matt Goss and Cavendish among others.
But really, the question is not about how Pippo cornered. It's what on earth he was doing up there in the first place. On the run towards the finish, Pozzato seemed like he wanted to attack (but, really, he wanted someone else to attack for him and hold his hand). And then he was at the front like he was going to lead out a teammate... but no other Farnese Vini rider was nearby, save the one that helped Pippo get into position. Now really, Pippo, what were you thinking? You can mix it up in the sprint with Cav, Goss, and others still in the bunch? So confusing.
Levi Leipheimer - Still recovering from a broken leg and unable to put on a good show in the Levi Leipheimer Invitational race. Lets hope Odessa brought a cuddly rescue puppy to cheer him up after his abysmal time trial in Cali.
Fränk Schleck - Depending on whose twitter feed you believe, Alex Rasmussen caused Fränk to crash on stage 11 by giving Christian Vande Velde a handsling towards the front of the bunch. Or Fränk just wasn't looking where he was going. But the facts stand - he lost 46 seconds on a sprint stage due to the crash and another that occurred right as he was making contact with the peloton. And he was finally starting to look kind of interested in racing, too! But! You know who wins? Everyone on the twitters. The online fight between Fränk and Alex has been divine.