Today is first rest day in this year’s Giro d’Italia and therefore an appropriate time to give a preliminary summary of the race so far. We have now had 9 eventful stages. After the opening team time-trial there were, as is often the case, several flat stages on the tour route. Even on the first day the Omega Pharma-Lotto team surprised its rivals by finishing 4th in the 19.3 km team time-trial. The riders gave everything on their Speedmax CF bikes and the intensive training they had put in before the Giro certainly paid off.
The team also continued in the same way. Just one day later Sebastian Lang showed that he really meant business in this year’s Giro by attacking and going on a 200 km breakaway, at one point having a lead of 20 minutes. However, the other teams then took up the chase and swallowed up Seb before the finish. But the tactics of the team had paid off because on the next stage Sebastian was once again able to wear the green jersey of best climber.
The events of the next stage were to overshadow the sport, with the Belgian Wouter Weylandt crashing to his death. It was not possible to precisely reconstruct how the accident happened, however other riders in the peloton reported how the young Belgian got his pedal jammed in a stone wall and struck the ground after 20 meter fall. It was unfortunately not possible to save his life. The entire Canyon team and cycling world has been deeply shocked by this tragic incident and our thoughts go out to his friends and family. The organizers and riders all decided that the Giiro should continue and that the 4th stage should be neutralized. Weylandt’s start number (108) will never be used again at the Giro d’Italia.
From the point of view of Omega Pharma-Lotto stage 7 was a further highlight with the first mountain top finish. Bart de Clercq, the 24 year-old new pro was able to win his first race in a photo-finish. Bart was able to break away from the main field on the final climb, which had an average gradient of 5%, and open up a 30 second gap. With just a few hundred meters to go until the finish the leader had the riders from behind breathing down his neck, but still managed to stay away on his last reserves of strength.
Up until this point the main men in the field had been quiet, but on stage 8 Alberto Contador showed what he’s made of finishing second on the stage. On yesterday’s stage the riders rode over Mount Etna twice and team tactics went out of the window then. One day before the first rest day the stage race specialists and climbers really got down to business for the first time in this year’s event. Above all it was Alberto Contador who demonstrated his strength. At the finish he was 3 seconds up on second placed José Rujano Guillen and even 50 seconds on the first chasing group, which contained Vincenzo Nibali, Roman Kreuziger and Stefano Garzelli. The stage victory gave Contador the leader’s red jersey and he is now almost a minute ahead of Konstantin Sistrov.
The coming week begins comparatively quietly before three difficult days in the mountains on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Großglockner, Monte Zoncolan, Gardeccia).