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Green Bean of Filottrano: Tirreno-Adriatico

“Beh, if you don’t win, I’m going to call you the Fagiano of Filottrano, the pheasant of Filottrano.” This is how Gilberto Simoni motivated his team-mate Michele Scarponi, nicknamed the Eagle of Filottrano, to win Monday’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage in front of his home crowd. At least, Simoni didn’t threaten to call him the Fagiolino of Filottrano. That would be the Green Bean of Filottrano.

The real racing of today’s stage started with 42 kilometers to ride on the Sasso Tetto, a snow-topped climb which summited at 1455 meters of elevation. Feeling frisky, Danilo Diluca attacked first. Michele Scarponi, the stage win on his mind, countered. Then came Ivan Basso. Towing his Liquigas team-mate Vincenzo Nibali, Basso set a furious pace up the climb, announcing his return to the top level after his two year’s vacation courtesy of Etorri Torre of CONI. Do you think he sent Torre a postcard? Dear Etorri, Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here. Love, Ivan. Er, maybe not. Basso and Nibali reached the summit of the Sasso Tetto first. I have returned, Basso seemed to say. And we see no reason to doubt him.

On the descent, Vincenzo Nibali attacked. Nibali has taken a liking for the front of the bike race lately. So far, this liking has not yielded him a win. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying. Or something. In any case, off went Nibali on the descent to try his hand at a solo break. For a time, it worked.

On the climb to the historical city center of Camerino, a three-up break containing Michele Scarponi, Stefano Garzelli, and Ivan Basso chased Nibali. Basso sat on, natch. With still some kilometers left to ride (really, do you expect me to remember all these details?), Nibali ran short on legs and got dropped. Basso looked back, confused. Like, dude, where are you going? With his team-mate out the back, Basso attacked the break, but could not get a gap. Memo to Basso: Speed work is your friend. Basso has never had much acceleration. A passista extraordinaire, he turns the screws gradually. Sometimes it works. Like, in three week stage races. Other times, not so much. Today was one of those other times.

The group of three reached Camerino together, turning the advantage to Garzelli and Scarponi. Both have fast finishes. Eat your heart out, Ivan. Of course, Basso may well have the last laugh, if he takes home the Pink shirt in Rome. But that’s a story for another day.

At the line, Scarponi sprinted from the front, and Garzelli could not come around. Victory in front of the home crowd for the Aquila of Filottrano. Yes, thank you, can you make that a doppio? Scarponi also took over the jersey of race leader from German Andreas Klöden. Garzelli sits second in GC at 25 seconds, while Klödie is third at 1.07.

Scarponi owes Basso a thank you note, at the very least. Basso drove hard on the final climb and his efforts certainly made the difference for Scarponi. Though George Hincapie worked hard on the front for Columbia-High Road’s Thomas Lövkvist who began the day second in the general classification, he proved unable to bring down the gap. Perhaps Scarponi can take Basso out for a nice dinner.

Tomorrow, Tirreno-Adriatico concludes with a flat circuit, a gift for the sprinters. The general classification should remain un-changed, while the sprinters have their fun.

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