|This image pretty much sums up this year's Giro. Nibali, awesome stage finishes, horrible weather. |
"Of course!" you are thinking right now, "He won the race!" Well, yeah, but the way he won it was pure, 100% class. Nibali has emerged, not only as a real Italian contender for Grand Tours (unlike Basso, Scarponi, Di Luca, Cunego, etc), but he has shown that he can attack, that he can lead a team, and that when he's in good form no one can beat him. He won the Pink Jersey and he got a truckload of confidence for himself, his team and for the Italian tifiosi.
Not only did Italy host of the best Grand Tours in recent history, but an Italian won it. To top it off there were seven Italian stage winners (only four last year), four Italians in the top ten and and Italian KOM. Besides that, Italians should be very happy with the future of the sport. A lot of talented young riders showed themselves during the three weeks; Francesco Bongiorno, Fabio Felline, Diego Rosa, Fabio Aru, and Stefano Pirazzi, just name a few. Add to that Gianluca Brambilla, Diego Ulissi, and Damiano Caruso and you have a whole lot of young talent coming our way.
|I wonder if the RAI graphics dudes had to order more Italian and Colombian flags 'cuz they ran out half way through|
I don't want to come off as a super-patriot (again), or bore you with the details of how amazing this Giro has been for Colombia. I'll just say that I saw more Colombian flags on the RAI graphics this Giro than I had in the last five Grand Tours combined. In the end, there were two Colombians in the GC top 10, two in the Points, four in the KOM, and three in the Young Riders classification. There was one stage win, plenty of seconds and thirds. I'm more than satisfied.
The Wild Card Teams
I mentioned them in a post a few days back. Team Colombia, Bardiani Valvole, Vini Fantini and Androni Giocattoli all played key roles throughout the race. Bardiani and Vini Fantini shined especially bright with stage wins by Enrico Battaglin and Mauro Santambrogio.
Mark Cavendish and Omega Pharma-Quick Step
No one can argue that Mark Cavendish is the best sprinter in the world. Five stages in a Grand Tour is an amazing feat. Now, add to that the fact that, before the Giro started no one thought that OPQS were up to the challenge of getting Cav to the finish line. Well, they came through. Great team effort.
The team had to reinvent itself after Sir Wigg-a-lot left the race, but they did just that and they turned out to be a very strong team, even winning the Team Classification.
Four stage wins and Beñat Intxausti a solid eighth in the final GC. I doubt they were expecting anything like this, but I'm sure Unzue is a happy, happy camper.
Carlos "Bananito*" Betancur
I know I had a whole dilly about the Colombians up there, but Betancur's Giro was so amazing, he deserves to be called out. Wow, this kid has balls... and legs. I said it before, this kid is Colombia's best chance for a rainbow jersey.
* Thanks to Natalia for bringing up to my attention that Betancur prefers the nick name "La Ronca."
Wait, were they even in the race? I thought I saw Nacer Bouhanni there for like two minutes and then he was gone. Weird.
Ryder started the Giro with style by attacking the first chance he got, but ran out of gas quickly and the defending champ left me wanting more. At least Ramūnas Navardauskas saved the Giro for Garmin-Sharp. He celebrated twice, but only won once.
After all the talk and all he did was nothing. At least Hesjedal tried, dude.
Of course I love racing in bad weather, but when it's so bad, that they have to re-route stages and even cancel them? Screw that.
Declan Quigley's Attempt at Pronouncing Names
Where was Robert Hatch, dammit!?
Danilo Di Luca
Seriously, dude? Go fuck yourself.
The Plastic Barbie Throne
WTF was that? Seriously, Italy, WTF was that??
|Giro Ken sits on his Barbie Throne|
As ugly as ever.
|Turns out Fabio Baldato has a doppelganger, too: Actor Tom Savini|
Baseball Hate Galore
Horrible. Tasteless. Lame.
|Everyone in this picture (and their suppliers) should be ashamed of themselves|