Impressed with Cadel Evans, Cavendish and Intxausti
All change at the Giro d'Italia. Sky's Plan A has hit the skids, sorry couldn't resist but on the same fateful roads as Froome got done over at Tirreno Bradley Wiggins does the same and loses skin, time and all faith in his wet weather skills.
The confidence part of descending in the rain is the biggest concern because once you stop believing you'll make the corner the whole thing goes to pot. I was never that bothered about racing downhill in the wet as it meant slower speeds and more sliding if I did fall off but some guys don't like it at all. Who knows what Wiggins was feeling but he wasn't comfortable as soon as it rained and it could just be down to something like having the wrong tyre pressures for the conditions.
If not that it might have been he had some dodgy rims, grabby brake blocks, his weight distribution on the bike or even an aspect of frame geometry which upset him. It could be one of those or it could be a combination of them or it might just be because he got cold. One thing is for sure Nibali and Co will be doing a rain dance before the time trial because if it's soaking for the first crucial rendezvous instead of looking at a loss of two seconds per kilometre they'll be reckoning on a lot less.
This Giro hasn't been as smooth a ride for Sky and Brad as last year's Tour was, not by a long shot .
Stuck behind the big crash on the Thursday was the second bit of bad luck, after losing his team time trial benefit on the first of the uphill finishes. Before falling off he was already starting the TT before his rivals but now even if he does a great ride over the 55km the time gaps will be less convincing than they would have been and the Sky machine will be much more vulnerable to attacks.
They were already under a bit of media pressure over the TdF leadership and their Colombians who might or might not be leaving rumours. They thought they had dealt with those niggles effectively but the assembled press will have a whole new set of possibilities to ruminate over now that Wiggins has slid down the road and out of the top ten .
Such as, will the climbers have to wait for their team leader if he has another bad day, will they be given free reign, and which one to chose?
If Uran is leaving will they insist on him riding for Henao and not getting more points to take to another team. And if Wiggins' injuries are bad will he stop? What happens then for FroomeDog and the Tour? With so much speculation coming their way and so many stories to ward off Dave Brailsford might be thinking about how one of the people he admires Manchester Utd supremo Sir Alex Ferguson handled the situation between his stars. With two big egos to satisfy at Sky you have to ask will one of them be doing a Ronaldo and move to Spain.
It hasn't exactly done Mark Cavendish any harm to have moved on, two wins so far and despite the other sprinters lining up on his wheel it doesn't seem to make any difference to the outcome. That's classy, as was remembering Wouter Weylands on the podium.
Despite the long time trial I wouldn't write off Intxausti just yet, he's a good bike rider and being race leader changes your motivation. As much as it suited the favourites teams to see Paolini and Katusha try to control the race for most of the first week if the Basque rider kept the pink jersey at Movistar for the middle of the race, that would help them out greatly.
Of the other big names I've been impressed with Cadel Evans so far. He's been riding intelligently, not taking needless wind and positioning himself well. Hesjedal has calmed down and Nibali has looked in control but everything becomes clearer on Saturday night.
I still expect Bradley Wiggins to win the TT but with him losing time unexpectedly the GC has opened up and there'll be more riders and teams thinking they can get something from this Giro other than a kicking. Everyone has seen the chinks in the Sky armour and guys like Scarponi who dont mind a bit of rough weather wont be afraid to take them on once the big mountains arrive.
The Giro has proven to be brutally selective in the past and this edition looks like it'll be no exception.
- Robert Millar
Robert Millar was one of the last pure climbers of the Tour de France, winning several stages in the mountain stages and finishing fourth overall in 1984. He is also the only English speaker to have ever won the prestigious polka-dot jersey climber's competition jersey. Millar retired in 1995 but has continued to follow the sport closely. He was often critical of the media and quickly cuts through the excuses and spin to understand why and how riders win and lose.
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