Giro Shorts: Lance, Naibo, political row

Lance drops in to encourage Savoldelli and the Discovery boys, ailing Naibo almost eliminated from r

Lance drops in to encourage Savoldelli and the Discovery boys, ailing Naibo almost eliminated from r


Anyone making the trip to Belgium for the opening stages of the Giro should keep an eye on the Discovery Channel team car piloted by team manager Johan Bruyneel as it's likely to contain a very recognisable figure for some of the next few days. Lance Armstrong is in the country at the moment and is likely to take the chance to join his former team boss on stage three to Hotton. Armstrong may also continue his stint with the team on the opening stages in Italy at the end of the week.

- One rider was more concerned than most about the speed produced by Discovery's Paolo Savoldelli in the stage one time trial in Seraing. Ag2r's Carl Naibo had spent the three days before the race affected by stomach problems and set out on the time trial with the sole objective of finishing just inside the elimination time, which is the winner's time plus another 25 per cent. The Frenchman's time of 9-43 put him well inside this target until last man off Savoldelli started burning up the course. The Italian's victory by 11 seconds over Brad McGee meant Naibo finished 1-53 down on the winner, a mere four seconds away from elimination.

- A political row has blown up at the Giro, although thankfully not including the sport's administrative hierarchy for once. The centre-left regional government of Wallonia, which was instrumental in bringing the Giro to Belgium, has come under fire from its rivals after deciding to close the Namur-based parliament on Monday so that MP can watch the finish in the citadel city. "MPs should work on Monday. What kind of image does this give, at the same time as we are calling on workers to ask for less?" asked the Green MP Bernard Wesphael. The head of the Walloon local government, Jose Happart, responded: "We will do Monday's work on Thursday," which sounds like a good philosophy to us.

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