Giro Stage 18 – Another Garmin Near-miss

Poor Danny Pate. In case you missed today’s final kilometer, the American with the penchant for near-misses narrowly missed another big win. At first, I thought he went too soon, but on a second look at the film, notice how he keeps looking down at his cassette. The sprint was on a bricked/stoned boulevard that might have led to some chain slippage. Was he not in the proper gear? His cadence seems a bit high, and Scarponi rides away from him seemingly at ease. I find it hard to believe he mis-timed it or was surprised by the grade–especially since they rode through the line on the lap before.

Regardless, it’s yet another in a long line of Garmin “close but no cigar’s”. I really hate to say this, but I’m starting to think Cavendish had a point. Maybe Jon Vaughters is the Billy Beane of professional cycling and the rest of us just don’t understand the method behind his apparent roster-building madness. Maybe this is exactly the point he’s trying to prove in fielding what is often claimed to be the world’s cleanest team. For now though, it just reaffirms my long-held belief that a team of rouleurs and time-trialists is great for sitting at the front of races, but not the best for winning them.

And don’t give me that “what about stages in Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico?” stuff. Unless your team is French, at this point in the year these wins are rendered almost moot. Without looking it up or mentioning the overall winner, can you name one stage winner from the 2008 editions of these races? Okay, I’m sure some of you might, but for the rest of us, these races are merely indicators of–hopefully–bigger things to come.

Maybe Garmin will reward us come July. I, for one, am pulling for them; but I’m getting impatient.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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