Oohh... today was a good one, wasn't it? It was really nice to see DiLuca get the win and profit from the hard work that was done by the Saunier-Duval team. Saunier rode beautifully today for Simoni, with both Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli riding perfectly as faithful domestiques for their team leader, Simoni. Simoni, in turn, showed that he has some of the best form he's seen in recent years by finishing a strong second to DiLuca on the very challenging "Classics Style" finish. The last few kilometers were raced on narrow cobblestoned streets in the center of the French town of Briancon. If were raining, it would've looked like a Spring Classic... not exactly the kind of race that suits Simoni. Gibo showed great form and class to stick with DiLuca and was closer to Danilo's heels than many would've thought possible.
Part of the real story on the day was Andy Schleck of CSC, the young rider from Luxembourg- brother of Franck Schleck and current best young rider of the Giro. This kid is only 21 years old and is showing that he has the potential to one day be a true threat to the overall in the grand tours. The kid has a lot of promise. He is a real threat to make the final podium, as he is also a very talented time trial rider and can certainly look to upstage a few of the true climbers. Keep an eye on this one...
The other major contenders all rode well enough to not lose massive chunks of time, but nobody really looks very poised to rob DiLuca of his new pink leader's jersey just yet. There is still plenty of hard racing ahead and every rider has a "bad day" in a three week race, but DiLuca does look pretty good at the moment.
Tomorrow is the first individual time trial of the Giro. And, sadly, it's all uphill. It's short enough, 12.6km, that huge gaps shouldn't form (luckily for some riders), but it will further thin the herd as the race heads towards it's final week. DiLuca is not a great TT rider, so don't expect him to pull off the win. Zabriskie lost a bit more time today, but rode well enough to show he still has some legs left and might just be able to pull of the win. He's such a great TT rider and is climbing well enough for a non-climber, that he can't be ruled out. I have to say, I'm curious to see who pulls off the win tomorrow... it should be fairly exciting.
(PS- Dopers suck. The Zabel news today was just too depressing. Erik is one of the classiest guys ever in racing and now he's also a confessed doper. I was saddened. It sucks. I'm not one for getting wrapped up in "heroes" in sport, but this one stings a little. Damn.)