Ten days in to the 2012 Giro d’Italia, it’s fair to say the action on the road has matched pre-race expectation.
With terrible crashes on the flat, heroics in the mountains, and GC contenders going head-to-head on the picturesque streets of one of Italy’s most historic towns, the 95th corsa rosa certainly hasn’t lacked drama.
With the longest stage, flights into the high mountains, and a third time trial ahead, the action looks set to continue at the same relentless rate.
Here are five of the most memorable moments from the first ten days.
Stage one – Phinney comes of age
Great things have been expected of Taylor Phinney since before his arrival in the WorldTour and on the 8.7km time trial on the streets of the Danish town of Herning he fulfilled the early promise that saw him recruited by Livestrong. His team-mate on that development squad, Team Sky’s Alex Dowsett, a man who, as British national time trial champion, knows a thing or two about racing against the clock, told RCUK that Phinney at his best was “unbeatable”. A nine second margin of victory over an in-form Geraint Thomas, fresh from victory in the Tour of Romandie prologue, would attest to that.
Stage three – Cavendish hangs tough
Anyone who doubted Mark Cavendish’s commitment to the Giro, a relatively minor engagement for the Manxman in a season in which he will contest the two biggest prizes of his career, would have been forced to reconsider after watching him peel himself off the tarmac leading to the finish line in Horsens after a horrific crash that also brought down then race leader, Phinney. Cav showed similar bravery on stage nine underling the sincerity of his pledge to ride to Milan if strong enough.
Stage four – Garmin-Barracuda nail the team time trial
On the wrong end of a sound defeat at the hands of Orica-GreenEDGE at Tirreno-Adriatico, Jonathan Vaughter’s argyle army lived up to their billing as favourites during the 33.2km team time trial in Verona, catapulting team member Ramunas Navardauskas into the overall lead, a feat they would repeat five days later when Ryder Hesjedal pulled on the maglia rosa.
Stage six – Rubiano continues a proud tradition
Columbia has a proud history of success on the mountain stages of Grand Tours and Miguel Rubiano produced a ride worthy of Parra, Herrera, and Soler to ride clear (twice) of an elite group of escapees and finish nearly two minutes ahead of the peloton. The stage for Rubiano’s triumph was perhaps the most demanding of the first half of this year’s Giro: one with a saw blade profile, that included four categorised climbs.
Stage 10 – Rodriguez shows his hand
Is 2012 the season in which Joaquim Rodriguez stakes his claim to a seat at cycling’s top table? Team-mate this year to Oscar Freire, his more accomplished countryman, it was Rodriguez who delivered in the Classics (victory at La Fleche Walloone) and stage victories at The Tour of the Basque Country. His victory on stage ten at the Giro was among the best of the race so far. When the road rises in the weeks ahead, Rodriguez is unlikely to wilt.