After a long flat ride along the Eastern coast of Italy, the course turned inland and uphill. And in no time at all, the day’s breakaway was caught and the lead group contained all the race favorites. The steeper the road got, the smaller the group got. Rider after rider was shelled out the back as the pace continued to quicken – lead largely in the end by Team CSC’s Carlos Sastre, pulling Ivan Basso (nicknamed “The Smiling Assassin” for his ever-present grin even when he’s working his tail off) behind him. Basso was the only man in the group who never looked like he was struggling at all.
With 4k to go, Damiano Cunego (Lampre) tried to jump off the front. Basso slowly followed him up the road, and when he caught up to Cunego he just kept going. Cunego couldn’t hold his wheel, so it was Basso on his own for the last 3.5k. He won the stage 30 seconds ahead of Cunego, and put minutes into his other rivals. Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) finished 1:15 back, Danilo di Luca (Liquigas) finished 1:32 back, and Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel), last year’s winner, served up the day’s big surprise by bonking early on the climb and ultimately finishing 2:20 behind Basso.
Basso is now in the maglia rosa – Cunego is in 3nd on GC a full 1:34 behind Basso. Savoldelli is now in 4th at 2:35 back. Basso humbly acknowledges that anything can still happen – there are two weeks of racing left, and the last week is an absolute killer. He’s looking very, very good, though, heading into week two.
And speaking of My Boyfriend looking good, Chris pointed out last week that Basso’s website got a facelift. It’s a nice one, too – it’s even got wallpapers, screen savers and a shop with Basso-related clothing. I’ve put one of the wallpapers on all the computers I work on, and I’ll tell you it’s more than a little distracting to see this picture staring at me every time I close the program I’m working on.
(You've got to click on the picture for the full effect...)
Of course, I’m not complaining…