So, I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me until yesterday afternoon to look up "Tour de France" and "Giro d'Italia" (among other cycling things) on Wikipedia, but after I read the entries and saw the references to the others, I decided it would be a bit of recreating the wheel for me to write a Cycling 101 like I'd originally planned. I'll still try to capture all the most important bits in one place, but I have to say that's a heck of a lot easier than writing the whole thing myself. I don't know who wrote the cycling stuff on Wikipedia, but it's all great - and thank you.
Now, for the Giro's first stage this morning...
Unlike the Tour's first day, today was called "Stage One" instead of a "Prologue," despite the fact that it was a mere 6.2km time trial course. Because it was so short, it's hard to extrapolate anything really meaningful from today's results... And yes, I'm saying that principally because My Boyfriend didn't do as well as I wanted him to.
As last year's winner, Paolo Savoldelli (Team Discovery) rode last - and promptly spanked the rest of the field by beating his nearest opponent by a full 11 seconds. He was the only rider to complete the course in under eight minutes. It was truly an impressive ride, especially considering he'd recently suffered from tummy troubles in the Tour of Romandie (gastro-intestinal problems are not uncommon among cyclists during long stage races, and one day of a bad stomach can take you from the top spot to the bottom in a hurry).
My man, Ivan Basso (Team CSC), is one of the favorites this year, and though he didn't make a terribly impressive show today, he didn't do too badly. He ended up 23 seconds back from Savoldelli, which certainly isn't insurmountable... My guess is today's defeat is more psychological than anything else. Other Italians to watch in this year's race are Damiano Cunego (who won the Giro in 2004 and finished 25 seconds back today) and Gilberto Simoni (who won the Giro in 2001 and 2003 and finished 26 seconds back today). One rider who, in my opinion, doesn't usually manage to live up to the long-term expectations of a three-week Grand Tour is Danilo di Luca - he finished 19 seconds back today, though, so who knows what 2006 holds for him?
The best news for cycling fans is that it looks like it will be an exciting Giro, and will probably be the last week of racing that will determine the winner. Hallelujah for the start of the Grand Tours! Man, I love this season.