Giro d’Italia 2009: Stage 18. Scarponi gets second stage
Three days from Rome and on an overcast Thursday afternoon where scores of white sheep clouds smothered the percorso in hazy shades of blue-grey, an escape found success at the 92nd Giro d’Italia as the favourites for the overall title rested their legs as best as they could.
Given the road that lies ahead, where on Friday, after a 164-kilometre slog around the ankle of Italy’s boot, the riders finish atop Mount Vesuvius – most likely in ones, twos and threes – the eighteenth stage was a clearly a case of polarised objectives for the 171 remaining soldiers left in this Centenary Giro.
On one hand, there was a bunch of blokes who knew they had no more than two opportunities left to win a stage in a race where, so far, only six teams have tasted the overly sweet spumante that accompanies victory. When sixth stage victor Michele Scarponi of Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni took his second win Friday in Benevento following another 100 kilometre-plus breakaway, still only six teams have tasted success.
Though surely, after two incredibly arduous escapes in a Grand Tour raced at the highest level, it’s lopped off a year or two off the 29-year-old’s life?
“Haha!” Scarponi first laughed with the shrill of a school-kid – one who has just heard the 3 p.m. afternoon bell ring, allowing him to run home and ride his bike with his friends.