By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Marostica
Basso's not-so-secret weapons
Ivan Basso had a special FSA crankset for Stage 11, with a 52/36 front chainring for the steep ascent of Passo Duran and the final climb up to Zoldo Alto/Dolomiti Stars. We asked CSC team director Bjarne Riis what was up with the special gearing and he cagily replied, "You'll see on the climb".
Cyclingnews also asked Riis about how he saw the situation on Stage 11 and he said that, "I think, and I hope it's going to be a spectacular day...how it's going to end I don't know, but I think we'll see some surprises. A nice battle." We asked Riis what he would tell Basso in his earpiece when Simoni attacks and his simple, elegant reply was, "Be ready...stay close."
Riis was proved right again.
Gonchar at home
Last year's Giro d'Italia runner-up Serguei Gonchar (Domina Vacanze) has lived in today's stage start town of Marostica for almost 10 years. Surrounded by his local tifosi, the tough Ukrainian told Cyclingnews, "It's good to be at home; you know there's no place like home. I hope it helps to find some friends and family. And since I'm at home, even people who don't know me say hello. It's nice to have a little popularity."
Dekker here to learn
When we spoke to Rabobank's 20 year old phenom Thomas Dekker before Sunday's time trial, he was hoping for a good ride as his riding skill against the clock is clear. Dekker was runner-up in last year's World U23 championship in Verona and finished an excellent 9th in the Lamporecchio-Firenze 45km time test. "It was a good effort for me; the stage before I went easy and was prepared for the TT."
Some Dutch journalists have been criticizing the young Rabobank rider as he is often seen riding at the back of the peloton, but he explained, "My main job at this race is to learn. It's a big step for me." We asked Dekker, who won a U23 race in the Pyrenees last year on the Col d'Aubisque, what he was expecting in the high mountains to come. "I might go in an attack, but it's tough. I don't know how the peloton will start. I'm hoping that an early break and then we'll see what happens. I hope I can even be sometimes in the front."