Topic #1: Giro Weekend!
This is gonna be a fun weekend. Kicks off tomorrow with a saw-tooth tour of 198 kilometers. Ryder Hesjedal looks to be in a cat-bird position with nearly a minute on all the 'real' challengers - those who can throw down a decent time trial (with apologies to Purito Rodriguez) - a pretty nice place to be for someone who CAN Time Trial...but Ivan Basso can TT as well, lest you forget.
Then again, before we get to the TT....we get Saturdays fun.
The Giro has climbed the Pampeago climb several times - in fact they do it twice on this stage alone - including a legendary ascent by Marco Pantani in 1999. In 2003 the race returned - this time Gilberto Simoni was putting his stamp on the race, while a much different Pantani labored up the slopes conceding just over 2 minutes (Video part 1, part 2, part 3)
After that, of course, there is the little issue of Saturday. 7 major climbs by my count, but they only classify 5. I think the real action starts on the penultimate climb the Motirolo, a legend in it's own right, as agressive riders a few minutes down like Rigoberto Uran and Domenico Pozzovivo MUST try something daring and attack early. The Stelvio, by comparison, is much larger and more difficult...but the race has only used it 9 times and will be the third summit finish. It is important to note that this years race comes up the Bormio side...not the more famous Eastern route where all the pictures come from. Still resplendent in 40 hairpins, it's no day at the park, but is not quite as formidable.
Quite a difference to Sunday...
So who wins? My money is on Ryder....