- Italian TV announcers just love Ricardo Ricco. I think this is partly because he's a young, rising star, but also because they just *love* to say things like "Rrrrreeeek-ahrdo Rrrrrrrrrreeeeeekooooo... Fortissimo!"
- Italian TV, and European TV in general, sort of sucks. When a brother gets used to 1080i on the big screen, ESTC or whatever that crap European broadcast standard is just stinks. It's like watching TV through a bad case of conjunctivitis.
- Jens Voigt is the f***in man. In Monday's mountain stage #16, a brutal individual time trial at Plan di Corones that was just as ridiculous a climb as you could imagine, Voigt turned in one of the fastest times. He just hammered up the hill, and my goodness were the announcers surprised to see him come around the corner 1k out from the finish, head tipped, mouth wide open in a rictus of pain, eyes squinting, just pounding on the pedals. Voigt finished the stage in 11th, only 1:55 down on some serious climbers. While Phil Ligget's cliches have gotten a bit shopworn, the one that is always still fresh is when he refers to Voigt reaching deep into his suitcase of courage. For a guy who is allegedly a domestique, he wins a shitload of multi-day races and grand tour stages, and is always in the mix of every race, making things happen. He's also 36 and apparently a really good family man. I have a lot of respect for him.
- The Giro really is better racing than the other grand tours. In stage 15, which featured a mountain top finish after the second consecutive climbing stage, Danilo DiLuca wobbled across the line looking blown out. He looked really, really bad. This is news because DiLuca is the smoothest guy in the peloton since Cipo retired. He *never* looks bad. But at the end of stage 15, he looked like death. Yep, the Stage 16 hill ITT was brutal and unacceptable. The stages held in bad weather, that are too long, that feature nasty climbs too many days in a row and too many dangerous descents - these are all things the Tour de France lacks the balls to do, plain and simple. They stick to more or less hidebound tradition, which is lovely, but unsurprising. You won't often hear the riders in the TdF complain about the course because complaints aren't welcome, but also because the course is pretty much always the same. The riders know what to expect. Not so the Giro - it's like Forest Gump's box of chocolates, you just never know what you're going to get. Hey, check it out - three mountain stages in a row, no rest days, and we supposedly don't begin climbing until next week! Hey, here's Astana - thought they were on the beech! What's this... an American team in the Maglia Rosa for a couple days.
It's great stuff, even if the whole operatic Italian subtext does make David Millar throw his bike into the woods periodically.