The Corsa Rosa: pretty bitchin', I must happily say, except what the hell is with the 4 time trials? Team on day 1 in Palermo, two interim (including one 13.8 km mountain to Plan de Corones), then welcome to Milan, boys! Let's face it, considering how most of the climbers do at the discipline--and let's leave aside the mountain tt entirely, assuming one of them'll take that--if two other individual time trials including right down to the line aren't a massive incentive for panic-induced last-minute doping (especially if it's still close heading into the finish line in Milan), what is? The mountains: nice 'n' brutal! Just three mountaintop finishes, but some damn hard work to get there: stage 14 to Alpe di Pampeago, a vicious stage 15 leg-crusher over Passo Fedaia with its top two k at 18% gradient plus the beautiful monster Pordoi; then a lively day crawling up the Gavia, Mortirolo, and Aprica. Vai Simoni!
The Riders: by general consensus, it's a "nervous" start with a pleasingly vicious second half, with Bettini eager to make up for last year by taking one in this year's world championship jersey on his home turf; we love Gilberto Simoni cagey on race favorites yet but personally wants it again on Pampeago; Garzelli's looking forward to the pain of the final week; and DiLuca's aiming for the win, but hold your horses honey, because your little domestique Savoldelli isn't conceding your leadership just yet. Right on Paolo!
The Tifosi: glancing down at the comments page at Gazzetta dello Sport, we've got some pretty strong feelings out there, starting off with general expressions of happiness and total Giro superiority, wandering over into fervent Pantani tributes, complaining about the relative lack of Dolomites, questioning why an Italian race is bothering with Switzerland in the first place, jousting over DiLuca vs. Cunego, spinning off into arguments over doping, and, finally, after some general verbal abuse of the arrogant self-centered egomaniac Milanese (who apparently don't deserve the finale every year, what the hell do you effete northerners have against Sicilia anyway?), degenerating into threatening all-caps rants by residents of other regions who feel distinctly disenfranchised by this year's corsa rosa. Note to the organizers: stay the hell out of Tuscany and Piemonte, these tifosi are *pissed*!
My Faves: of course Simoni, who's of course not going to take it, but unless Savoldelli starts knuckling under to DiLuca pronto I'm not sure how great it looks for the Killer, which leaves it, if his end-of-last-season run is any indication, as baby Cunego's for the taking, if even babier wunderkind Ricco' still lacks the experience to plan out his efforts wisely. Then again, my assessment's certain to change as the race draws near, and it's always wrong anyway--perhaps a few glasses of Chianti, and I'll set it all to rights!