PavÃ© would like to thank Laekhouse for supporting our coverage of the 2011 Giro dâ€™Italia.
The halfway mark of the Giro d’Italia is a good time to check the form of the sprinters as we approach the battle royale of the Tour de France (especially as the top sprinters haveÂ bowed out ahead of the Giroâ€™s difficult mountain stages). Here are some highlights.
One of the most astonishing candidates for green in July is perhaps Lampreâ€™sÂ Alessandro Petacchi. Fresh from some high-altitude climbing training with teammate Michele Scarponi, Petacchi claims to be a new man, earning himself a 3-minute difference against Mark Cavendish on Mt. Etna. Thatâ€™s some impressive stuff, especially given the allegations that Cavendish hung onto his team car for longer than should be necessary. Regardless, sprinters do not compete on time (although Robbie McEwen missed the stage time cut).
A sprinter on the rise is Movistar’sÂ Francisco Ventoso. A specialist in slightly uphill finishes (similar to fellow Spaniard Oscar Freire) Ventoso’s time appears to have arrived. He has consistently finished in the top three in the sprint stages and won last weekâ€™s Stage 6 in Fiuggi.
HTC-Highroadâ€™s Mark Cavendish, arguably the fastest of them all, took a while to open his account in this year’s Giro d’Italia. Thwarted by Petacchi on Stage 1 despite showing that he had the speed, Cav timed his Stage 10 win to perfection against a fading Petacchi, then added another on Stage 12 despite a chaotic finish. Credit goes to him and to the well-drilled HTC-Highroad leadout train.
Colnagoâ€™s Sacha Modolo and Farneseâ€™s Oscar Gatto deserve mention for their performances, but they won’t be figuring in the Tour de France. Francesco Chicchi of Quick-Step has lurked around the top-10 but with no clear signs of a breakthrough.
ï»¿Which sprinter of this year’s Giro has impressed you the most? Share your comments below.