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Giro d'Italia – Basso Bags it

There’s a very famous (and thoroughly recommended) film called Stars and Watercarriers. It’s a feature documentary about Eddy Merckx at the Giro d’Italia and the riders around him, including a domestique (or Gregario to call him by his correct Italian name).

The film focuses on the glamour of the star riders and the misfortune and hard work of the hapless workers. It sort of shows Merckx as a demi-god and also that those around him, his team mates and his fans, utterly worshiped him and would sacrifice all for their hero. Well fast forward 30-odd years and this is what we have at this year’s Giro. The star – Ivan Basso has shown Merckx/Armstrong domination of the first three week tour of 2006, he is set to take on two tour wins for this year. If it wasn’t for Tom Boonen, they’d be another Merckx-type hype story ahead for Ivan Basso.

The watercarrier is a certain Charly Wegelius, who has shown what it is to be a true Gregario. He has redeemed his indescretion at the 2005 World Championships and shown that he is, potentially, the ‘next Sean Yates’, albeit about half his size. A tireless team worker who can chase breaks and marshal fine riders like Axel Merckx, to sacrifice his own chances for his team leader, and even do OK himself. Unlike Sean he can climb too, so his services will be in demand in the future – so the cycling world will be impressed with his Giro.

Just to keep the Gregarios on their toes there was also a special prize for the rider who could carry the most bottles from the team cars to the rest of the team. 20 was the target (around 10 kilos in weight!) That would double the weight of Charly Wegelius probably. Fabio Sacchi (Milram) managed 18 bottles – a feat that won him 18 bottles of fine wine.

Jan Ullrich proved that, when not under pressure, he is the finest time triallist of his generation. But pulling out with a bad back during the final, nasty, stages of the Giro was not a great sign for the high mountain stages of the Tour in July. Discovery also had a lack lustre time, especially loosing the Team Time Trial. They will need to up the anti for the Tour.

So who will win the Tour. Basso? Ullrich? Savoldelli? Whatever team wins and whoever leads them just remember that they will have to ask a lot from their watercarriers.

2006 Giro d’Italia – Final General classification

1. Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 91.33.36 (38.54 km/h)
2. José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 9.18
3. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 11.59
4. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 18.16
5. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 19.22
6. Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 23.53
7. Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Quick Step-Innergetic 24.26
8. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas 25.57
9. Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems 26.27
10. Francisco J. Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre-Fondital 27.34
11. Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 28.00
12. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 28.17
13. José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 28.30
14. Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole 35.15
15. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 40.16
16. Ivan Ramiro Parra Pinto (Col) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone 46.56
17. Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 48.25
18. Unai Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 48.52
19. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Lampre-Fondital 49.47
20. Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 50.43
58. Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas 1.59.19

Points classification

1. Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 169 points
2. Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 158
3. José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 132
4. Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile Team 104
5. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 95
6. Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 89
7. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 88
8. Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 86
9. Axel Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 68
10. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas 67

Mountains classification

1. Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Quick Step-Innergetic 64 points
2. Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 56
3. Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 52
4. Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 32
5. José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 27
6. Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 23
7. Francisco J. Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre-Fondital 22
8. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 20
9. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 16
10. Jose Serpa (Col) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni 15
21. Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas 5

Trofeo Fast Team classification

1. Phonak Hearing Systems 274.21.31
2. Lampre-Fondital 7.36
3. Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 16.05
4. Saunier Duval-Prodir 29.37
5. Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 53.06
6. Liquigas 56.12
7. Credit Agricole 1.22.59
8. Team CSC 1.31.15
9. Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 1.47.58

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