A Full Weekend of Racing
The applause for the champions is well deserved, but there's more to life than that.
What a weekend in racing. The big news of course was Ryder Hesjedal winning the Giro d'Italia. The Garmin-Barracuda rider is the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour and it's also the first Grand Tour win for the Jonathan Vaughters led squad. Congratulations all around! If you're located in the U.S. you can relive video highlights from the Giro in our video section .
Another round of congratulations needs to be sent to the organizers and specifically Michele Acquarone of the Giro d'Italia organization RCS. There was a gradual buildup of a sporting tension. The pink leader's jersey was swapped around and the sprint finishes were an exciting conclusion to the first week. But before I go further, the beginning of the Giro belonged to BMC Racing's Taylor Phinney. What a fantastic ride by that young man. I know it's a worn out cliché, but he is part of the new growth in professional cycling. As one generation of American cycling readies to retire, another is stepping in to take its place.
The final week of the Giro kept everyone tuning in to see where the pink jersey might land. Also interestingly this last week showed who has potential and who hasn't. A man that was on a lot of people's short list for the overall victory in the Giro was Roman Kreuziger of Astana. He finished stage 17 over 11 minutes back. Ouch!
Thankfully for him he was able to bounce back and take a victory on stage 19. That might have saved him a bit of face, however it might be a little too late as Astana is probably reevaluating his contract and realizing they don't have a Grand Tour winner. The Contador days seem so far away now when he was winning everything for the breakaway republic.
Another rider who failed to deliver was Ivan Basso of Liquigas-Cannondale. His team sure looked the strongest - setting the pace on the climbs during the last week like they had the pink jersey in their ranks. When the peloton finished the time trial in Milan, Basso was fifth on the general classification. The strength he's had in past years seems to have left him.
Enough with those who didn't, let's mention those who did. Mark Cavendish had three stage wins - not too bad, but there were some missed opportunities to add to the tally. Of course the already mentioned Phinney for his prologue win deserves another shout-out. The man of the Giro is without a doubt Hesjedal.
Ryder was Mr. Consistency the entire Grand Tour. He was staying with his opponents when necessary, but also putting them under pressure such as in stage 19 and of course in the final time trial in Milan. I'm hoping that team manager Jonathan Vaughters is able to keep Hesjedal in the fold for a couple more years, but that may be a hard thing to do. And it also puts a question mark behind the other G.C leaders on the squad. Christian Vande Velde has shown promise, but perhaps he now views