Thomas Løvkvist is, for me, the undoubted star of the first week of the Giro.
Some will say that Danilo Di Luca deserves that title as well as the pink jersey the “Killer” will model tomorrow into Bergamo, but those who remember my blog on the eve of the race will know that the LPR man’s performances come as no surprise.
La Gazzetta dello Sport erroneously stated this morning that Løvkvist has ridden two Tours de France without ever contending, when in reality he’s done four, never with any great personal distinction. Hence why I’ve been so impressed with the Swede, especially in the Dolomites on Tuesday and Wednesday. But can he hang on?
Surveying the climbs on the Giro profile – and the fact that none of them are prohibitively steep – I’d say that the Columbia man could continue to impress…albeit at the outer extremes of the Top Ten. Looking ahead, it’ll be intriguing to see what role Løvkvist fulfils at the Tour in July and also who’ll be allotted the other eight Columbia jerseys.
Earlier this week, Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson and I decided to wager £10 on precisely that little poser. Having heard from Columbia chief Bob Stapleton last weekend that up to 17 of his riders could still be in contention, my nine would be Løvkvist, Cavendish, Burghardt, Hansen, Eisel, Rogers, Hincapie, T Martin and Kirchen. Benson went for all the same names except for Monfort in place of Martin.
Intriguing comments from Damiano Cunego after his miserable performances in the Dolomites earlier this week. Cunego has been specializing in euphemistic protestations of his “cleanliness” for a couple of years now – but excelled even himself on Wednesday.
What are we make of this monologue?
“Disappointed? No. If I was disappointed every time that it doesn’t go well…The life of a cyclist is like that: moments of great joy and more delicate moments. You have to know how to deal with these situations – not get too excited when things go well and not get too down when they go badly. Today I lost. The rhythm was faster than I can go. I couldn’t do it. I was in the red…”
The interesting (and cryptic) part came next….
“I really wanted to do well: I was curious to see how the others were going and how I was going. Maybe that curiosity hurt me, as the last few nights, I haven’t slept well. But I’m not looking for excuses: I didn’t have the strength to stay at the front. I do what I can, give what I can. And I accept the results, even the negative ones.
"There are physical limits. My philosophy is this: do what you can, as you should. With nothing on your conscience. People know you, they understand, they appreciate and respect you. There’s a finishing order at the end of the day and today it didn’t flatter me, and let’s say there’s a finishing order in life as well, in which everyone has to look at themselves. I’m not the only one who does what he’s supposed to, but I do it anyway. In the past, the results of races have had to be rewritten, when the race has been over, and that’s hurt.
"After the Alpe di Siusi, the situation’s changed: my Giro isn’t in jeopardy, but I have to pull something out of the bag. If I have the chance, I’ll give it a go.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, not least given his former starring role in a high-profile doping investigation, Di Luca wasn’t too enamoured with Cunego’s remarks.
“Given the relationship I have with him, I’m sure he wasn’t referring to me,” the Killer sniffed, molto tranquillo as ever. “I feel as though this doesn’t concern me. But he could have spared himself those comments. Said by a colleague, things like this are never nice.”
Bertolini descends like a Ferrari
I noticed on the forum that a few of our readers were surprised by Alessandro Bertolini’s attack on the descent off the Passo Maloja. They shouldn’t have been; as a (supposedly) former client of Michele Ferrari, Bertolini won’t have been the only rider in the field who will have frequently ridden up and down the Maloja en route to Ferrari’s pied-à-terre in St Moritz.
...I wish I could ride like Edvald Boasson Hagen...
And finally, in the name of philanthropy, I can’t wind up today’s blog without drawing your attention to some of the extraordinary odds currently available on cycle racing online. Frank Schleck at 66-1 for the Tour, anyone (BLUESQ)? Or 150-1 for Christian Vande Velde in the same race (BLUESQ and 888sport)? Is that the sound of piggy-banks being raided I can hear?
Final thought of the day: I don’t have a gambling problem. Honest.