Orvieto → Fiuggi Terme 216Km. Bumpy and lumpy throughout, with an uphill finish (a bit like today) Contador has yet to put his mark on the race. Has he been saving something for today ?.
If Weening is up for it tomorrow his team may protect him and get him to within the last 2 - 5 km before launching him. He had the best legs today, and wearing Pink for the next stage might just fire him up for another win. Contador ? reserving my judgement for the moment.
Today was more a day for the GC guys to get to the end without mishap - Nibali and Scarponi both had a bit of a dig at separate points, mind- and there are plenty of big stages to come that will shape the overall. Tomorrow's unlikely to be one of those, although again someone might try and get away.
Arroyo did so on a similar stage last year, and ended up as the, er, meat in the Liquigas sandwich on the podium in Verona.
But think back to last year's TDF. Contador's main aim seemed to be to mark Andy Schleck throughout, knowing that he had an edge in the penultimate day's time trial. Chaingate was a bonus for him, but later, on the summit finish at the Tourmalet, he couldn't shake him off.
Indeed, chaingate apart, the only stages where one or other of them got away were Stage 8 to Morzine Arvoriaz, won by Schleck, who took 10 seconds off Contador. The Spaniard got those back on Stage 12 to Mende, where he was second to Rodriguez.
The big difference between the Tour and Giro is not just the sheer number of mountain stages, but also the bonus seconds on offer. There are going to be some big scraps to finish in the top three (and for the order of those places).
I think it's a real shame the TDF did away with them. Contador won the race last year without winning a stage. I don't think that's possible in this year's Giro.
In Italy I didn't meet one fan who actually thought he should be riding in the race with the CAS appeal hanging over him. Okay, these were Italians I was talking to, so they're likely to be biased in favour of home stars, but there was a feeling that Saxo Bank had displayed a certain lack of propriety, not to mention class, by letting him race.
Now, there's no way of telling whether that might also be felt by some of the riders, although you do feel that if he's on form the rest could be racing for second and still find themselves as defending Giro champion next year.
You could certainly see the likes of Scarponi, Nibali and Garzelli, tacitly or not, ganging up to try and break him on one of the early mountain stages to try and put him will out of contention.
Team Movistar have been trying to put a man up front since the start of the tour. Tomorrow I think they may succeed,watch out for KIRYIENKA, SAMOILAU or another team member in an early solo break - to either get a few lonely miles publicity,( or even win the stage ? )
Movistar , against all odds . .even Pettachi appeared to want them to win too ! strange ??
Finally got off the sub 20 mark today! pretty good considering I looked at the wrong stage profile!