Sunday, May 11, 2008

Giro d'Italia 2008 Stage 2: Arrrrgh-yle

After their brilliant TTT win yesterday, Slipstream-Chipotle was awesome again today, although heartbreak replaced jubilation as the emotion of the day. I settled in with breakfast, ready to enjoy Christian Vande Velde in pink and the Argyle Armada leading the pack. And that I did, the guys looked great and worked their tails off once again in defense of the jersey. Especially Magnus Backstedt, who seemed forever on the front drilling away. Much as I adore the argyle, it's fun and impressive to see all the national jerseys on Slipstream, three in the TTT, and three on the road stages, with only one overlap.

Then came the shot of the rider-less bike, on the left half of the road. I couldn't tell whose bike it was, but I was immediately thinking, where's the rider, where's the rider? And then they panned over to the right side of the road, and there was the instantly recognizable Dave Zabriskie, lying in the grass in a very bad pose. It was awful to watch, he was so pale, with his brow furrowed in shock, pain, and confusion. He was obviously in a lot of pain, and having trouble breathing deeply, I just wanted to reach through the screen and give him strength. Zabriskie is such an internal guy, watching him quietly suffer as he was lifted up onto the stretcher and wheeled away, I couldn't help but be reminded of his horrible crash in yellow at the Tour. (He joked yesterday about not wanting the pink jersey, I'm sure he was doubly glad today to not have it.) He had that same stoic look then as the reporters and photographers mercilessly jostled his bloody and battered body while he was trying to make it to the team car. He's often called quirky and goofy, but let's not forget, Zabriskie is also tough as nails.

Vande Velde mentioned how he will miss Zabriskie, and the smiles he brings, over the next few weeks, and so will we all. DZ is a joy to watch on the bike, and to listen to off the bike. Maybe he can come up with those Marvel characters for his teammates while he recovers (see May 6 entry). I'm glad to hear the injury is not a serious one, and hope he will recover well and be able to rock his baby and all that fun stuff when the little one arrives later this month.

Things of course could've been much worse, as they were for Fausto Munoz Esparza, recently paralyzed in the Tour of Gila. He joins DZ in my thoughts and best wishes, it's a hard and uncertain road ahead for him.

Getting back to today's stage, the boys kept things under control as long as they could, and David Millar did a great turn as Vande Velde's last ally going in to the closing circuit. (As a side note, the Norway feed sure picked a random time to up and leave the race for some studio show, but fortunately cyclingfans and steephill had all the links needed to find continuous coverage.) But then it was all up to Christian, and it was great to see him give his all and battle 'til the end, sensibly following the strong wheels where he could. One second is always a frustrating margin, but they knew keeping the jersey would be a tough ask on a day like today, and they gave their all, so I agree with the posts by Christian and others on the team website, no regrets and no shame. Julian Dean deserves a mention as well, for keeping his place in the paceline, shredded left side and all. The pressure's off, they can recuperate and decide where in the race they want to spice things up again.

Who knows what the whole story is with Danilo Di Luca, but it must be said his team had a good showing taking over the pace at the end and setting him up for a good result. And nice to see Riccardo Ricco pedaling his bike across the line instead of throwing it. Ironic for Slipstream to hand the jersey over to Liquigas, of all teams, but I have nothing against Franco Pellizotti, so good on him for the extra effort in the end and realizing every Italian boy's dream.

Speaking of quietly heroic athletes who get the crap beat out of them and come back for more, today's movie recommendation is The Rocket, about hockey great Maurice Richard. Not a fancy movie, but the compelling story carries the day. Ironically, the DVD offers a version dubbed in English, but I'd recommend the original French with subtitles. There's a bunch of dialogue in English anyway, and even though it's just actors, it seems wrong to not let them speak French, given the subject matter.

1 comment:

Nikki said...

I'm so happy you're writing. Not many can put it into words like you!

Dave's crash was awful. Watching, I thought he'd broken some ribs seeming to struggle to get deep breaths. I HATE crashes. Hate them, hate them, hate them.

I'm still smiling ear to ear for C this morning. I'm sure that my excitement and happiness for him is not going to go away anytime soon. I was so happy to see him put on the jersey and his smiles in those pics was priceless!!!