Denis Menchov: Cyclist. Giro Winner. Badass.

DenisMenchovEven though we spent our Saturday evening enjoying 40 ounce bottles of a peculiar malt liquor known simply as Laser [hint: watch the video to discover why you’ve always hated UFC], I somehow followed through with my drunken threats to wake at 7:30 in the morning to watch the final time trial of the Giro d’Italia live.

Although Denis Menchov of the Rabobank squad was widely expected to win the Giro after his continual leashing of 2nd place rider Danilo Di Luca in the last week of the race — whenever Di Luca attacked in an attempt to shave Menchov’s 20-second advantage, Menchov remained on his rear wheel like a tick on a dog — international sporting events rarely go down that smoothly. And although it’s very possible that it was the leftover pepperoni rolls or the malted barley remnants, I had a feeling in my stomach that Di Luca might get the last laugh. It was the same feeling I had before Super Bowl XLII (Giants/Pats) and before 2007’s NCAA Football title game smackdown (Gators/Buckeyes), so I assumed the Italian still had a chance.

And thatwill be the last time I underestimate the Russians.

[what happened after the jump]

And so the 14.4 km TT began, with most of the early excitement coming from the Roman scenery (including a finish line in front of the Colliseum). Cervelo rider Ignatas Konovalovas set the bar with a time of 18:42 and an average speed of 28.7 mph through the winding streets and slick cobblestones of Rome, while British rider Bradley Wiggins put up one hell of a fight.

Then the rain began falling.

Di Luca, who started the TT second to last, blew out of the starting gate and made it obvious he wasn’t about to cede victory. At the first time check, Di Luca had already made up 5 seconds on Menchov and showed no signs of being afraid of the rain — with four time checks on the course, the math seemed obvious. As Menchov left the starting gate on a full-bore TT rig (while Di Luca chose to ride a standard bike), the announcers began wondering aloud if this could be the upset to cap the centenarary edition of the Giro.

Of course, Menchov is a truly formidable time trialer himself (having also won the grueling Stage 12 TT at Cinque Terre), so it was really no surprise when he began making up some of that lost ground. While it became obvious that Di Luca had burnt out from giving it his all at the beginning, Menchov (as he had the entire race) seemed to get stronger as the kilometers flew by. I’ll let the video tell the rest:

I don’t care who you are — to get up off the road after spilling at 25 mph and still win a race decided by mere seconds takes some massive (apparently, Russian) marbles. Props, and likely a raise, also need to be given to the Rabobank mechanic, Vincent Hendriks, who had a new bike ready for Menchov in under 10 seconds. Eat that, NASCAR.

[Menchov wins the Giro d’Italia – VeloNews]


4 Responses to “Denis Menchov: Cyclist. Giro Winner. Badass.”

  1. 1 AE
    June 1, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Great Vid. Would have been great to see it live!

  2. 2 britt
    June 2, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    laser, laser, laser, laser…. I’m very glad you did not wake her…..

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