By Jean-François Quénet in Frascati
The maglia rosa still has a magic impact on the tifosi. When Danilo Di Luca showed up at the start of stage 5 in Teano the day after his convincing win up at Montevergine, the people became crazy. Despite the doping affairs that are hitting Italian cycling these days, the national Tour remains an extremely popular business.
Despite crashing the previous day in a mass pile-up on the slick roads in stage four, Di Luca seem to suffer any ill effects physically or mentally. Even though the finishing kilometre was full of turns, and had its share of bumping and nerves up front, 'The Killer' didn't think the finale was all that bad. "I actually didn't see the sprint at all and I believe the road was large enough for the race to go through," he declared. "I was never afraid of anything today. I haven't taken any risks."
Di Luca talked of wanting to give the pink jersey away before the start of the stage, but his British team-mate Charly Wegelius wasn't sure his team-mate would be so willing to give up the legendary maglia rosa. "It's always nice to have [the jersey], but hopefully the sprinters teams will do most of the work", Wegelius said, and their day went according to the plan.
"When the breakaway went [with Mickaël Buffaz and Mikhail Ignatiev who has already compiled 310 kilometres of racing by himself since the beginning of the Giro, ed.], the teams of the sprinters kept them at distance, it's been a quiet day for us," Di Luca explained.
Stating that he hopes "to listen to the same music tomorrow", he didn't seem to worry about tomorrow's 21 kilometre trip up the famed Monte Terminillio, nor was he concerned that two more short but tough climbs follow it. "I don't think it'll have an incidence on the general classification. There will be a breakaway and we'll let them go. This stage is more adapted for me to lose the jersey. My next goal is on stage 10, finishing in Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia."
Despite the difficulties of the Giro d'Italia's second week, Di Luca has his eyes on the decisive third week, which holds stage 17's brutal stage which finishes atop the Monte Zoncolan. "If I have the same condition that day, I'll try to profit from this climb to increase my lead over my rivals, but that will be in the second week of the race only. I'd be happier to be in a situation of defending an advantage at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo and on the Zoncolan."