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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Post-Giro recap, June 2, 2009

Hot in Italy: Who had 'it'

While Denis Menchov took the overall victory in this year's Giro d'Italia, there were a number of notable performances that made the race one of the best editions ever. There can only be one overall winner but a host of riders impressed throughout the three weeks.

Cyclingnews' Les Clarke and Laura Weislo take a look at those who ran hot in Italy and those who didn't.

Definitely hot were:

9. The route and the weather

The peloton descends the Moncenisio.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Could it have been any better? Probably not. Few days of bad weather, although the heat was oppressive at times.

Il bello percorso looked brilliant on TV and another statement of how Italy can lay claim to being the spiritual home of cycling.

8. Serge Pauwels Kevin Seeldraeyers

Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quick Step)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Pauwels could have taken a stage win but came back to look after the captain without kicking up a stink. Impressive discipline.

Seeldraeyers proved that Quick Step has a rider capable of shaking up the general classification in a major tour - good work, Patrick.

7. The Cervelo TestTeam

Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) celebrates his win
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Four stage wins courtesy of Carlos Sastre, Simon Gerrans and Ignatas Konovalovas, delivering an ominous warning ahead of the Tour next month.

Pure class from the men in black in their Giro debut under this new guise.

6. Danilo Di Luca and Alessandro Petacchi

Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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A brace of stages and an overall podium for Di Luca; not for lack of trying to shake Menchov, however. Great attacking at times that made for captivating TV coverage. Riding style would have made Giro legends proud. The winner in the hearts of Italians, really.

Petacchi provided a blast from the past with two stage wins of his own against Mark Cavendish, who is 12 years his junior and in the form of his life.

5. Denis Menchov and the Rabobank kids

Rabobank sets tempo
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Indurain-style tactics showed Menchov's strength in what was one of the most difficult editions of the Giro in recent history.

His mechanic in the final TT displayed awesome anticipation to take the spare bike off the racks and have it to Menchov in a jiffy. Possibly saved the race for the stoic Russian.

Laurens Ten Dam also earned his dough by helping Menchov and finishing amongst some luminaries in the final classification.

4. Stefano Garzelli

Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

How old did you say he was? Didn't ride like it.

The Italian turned back the clock and showed the type of form in the mountains that netted him a Giro title in 2000.

Nine years later and he was still able to take home the mountains classification on the back of a fantastic solo effort in stage 10.

3. Yaroslav Popovych

Yaroslav Popovych (Astana) attacks
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Rode as if that year at Silence-Lotto never happened.

Went backwards on many of the final climbs of the tough stages but kept bouncing back.

Will be a major weapon for Contador in July.

2. The Columbia-Highroad colossus

Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia - Highroad)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Individual stage wins to Cavendish, Siutsou and Boasson Hagen in addition to the opening team time trial victory in Venice, Thomas L÷vkvist's stint in pink and Michael Rogers' top 10 on general classification meant that Columbia-Highroad finished as the most successful outfit in the race.

Bob Stapleton's men didn't take home the team classification, however. You can't have it all.

1. Franco Pellizotti

Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

One of the most enjoyable performances of the Giro to watch, particularly his stage victory in Blockhaus.

He'd been threatening until that point and justice was done for a man who most effectively took Liquigas-Doimo's challenge to its rivals.

Not so hot were:

9. Hazards

The descent of Passo Maloja.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Dangerous descents throughout the race, wet cobbles and parked cars on the stage nine Milano Show 100 that caused the 100 miles of that day's 'racing' to be neutralised were talking points amongst fans, riders and organisers.

RCS Sport may have tried to be a little too cute with the route without taking the necessary precautions to ensure rider safety.

8. Levi Leipheimer

Levi Leipheimer (Astana) finished 2nd
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Despite a third Tour of California title and claims (including those made by this publication) that he had the form to make the Giro final podium, Leipheimer didn't quite have the kick at the right times.

Having Armstrong in the squad and the loss of Horner before the difficult and action-packed last week didn't help matters.

7. Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong (Astana)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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His first Giro appearance was treated like the second coming of Christ, so Armstrong's tight lips with English-speaking reporters was a slap in the face.

Didn't endear himself to journalists like he evidently did with Italian fans.

6. Damiano Cunego and Enrico Gasparotto

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

It's quickly becoming apparent that the Giro d'Italia title in 2004 was an anomaly for Damiano Cunego.

No podium, not even a top 10 overall for 'Il Piccolo Principe'. There were strong predictions that the time was right for both he and Gasparotto to shine but it didn't happen.

5. Ivan Basso

Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Talked up podium chances, missed out and didn't admit that Pellizotti had more in the tank than he did.

No repeat of the 'extra-terrestrial' performances of his 2006 Giro title which was a welcome sight given what eventuated about 12 months after that win.

4. Gilberto Simoni

Former Giro champion Gilberto Simoni
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Fans of the Italian veteran had hoped for more - at least a top 10 like his old mate Stefano Garzelli - and he had the sentimental vote.

It wasn't for lack of trying; 'Gibo' just didn't quite have the legs this year, unfortunately. Will probably be his last three-week lap around Italy.

3. Juan JosÚ Haedo

Argentina's Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank)
Photo ©: Mark Johnson
(Click for larger image)

Grand Tour stage wins have eluded him and time's a ticking...

He was Saxo Bank's man for the sprints in the absence of a GC rider - maybe next year?

2. The Barloworld boys

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) attacked
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Mauricio Soler never looked in the game and was blamed for several crashes while Robert Hunter didn't get a look in during the sprint stages.

1. AG2R's Yuriy Krivtsov

Yuriy Krivstov (AG2R)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

He outsprinted Mauro Facci for the T.V. sprint on stage 19; Facci was trying to equal Giovanni Visconti in the TV classification and needed to win TV sprints in both stage 19 and 20 to do it.

By taking those points, Krivtsov ruined his chances and the Ukrainian wasn't even a contender in that category. Poor form.



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Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net

Images by Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com

Images by Sirotti/www.sirotti.it

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