Giro d'Italia - Blazin' Saddles: Someone key that Ferrari

Tue, 08 May 16:41:00 2012

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during the Giro's longest ever air transfer from Denmark to Italy after the dramatic climax to Monday's stage three in Horsens.

Roberto Ferrari (Not in FRA, ITA) - 0

Supposing the seating arrangements were organised alphabetically by team, then there would just be a couple of Kazakh whippets separating the Androni Giocattoli team of reckless sprinting fiend Roberto Ferrari and the disgruntled BMC squad of ankle-crocked pink jersey Taylor Phinney.

Luckily there would have been pretty much a whole fuselage of emaciated angular cyclists filling the gap between Androni and Team Sky, who led the cries for Ferrari to be driven out of the race after his heinous hit and run in Horsens (try saying that at 75km/h).

On Twitter, Geraint Thomas, the man who would have put on pink had Phinney pulled out of the race following Ferrari's flooring of Cavendish, compared the Italian's senseless swerve to a two-footed challenge in football or a spear tackle in rugby.

Moments later, Cavendish got in on the act, underlining (quite rightly) that both he and other riders had been sent packing from races for doing less.

What really riled Cavendish — bar seeing his thigh and shoulder completely cheesegrated by Danish course-grained concrete — was Ferrari's lack of contrition for his part in causing the horror smash.

The Italian pro-continental (and equally second-rate) sprinter merely shrugged his shoulders and said he was not interested in what was going on behind him during races.

Well, Ferrari should be interested in what's going on behind him during long-haul trans-European flights, because Saddles imagines he would have had more than just airline peas flicked at him from most of the peloton.

You can almost imagine the likes of Thomas, Ian Stannard and Peter Kennaugh keeping tabs on Ferrari so they could rough him up by the toilets when he left the safety of his seat for a call of nature.

Those airplane loos are pretty small — some might say Ferrari would deserve a beating merely for the hell he would have put Cav through while trying to have a pee 30,000 feet above Germany. All it would take was a spot of turbulence and those road-rashed flanks, so reminiscent of rashes of Danish bacon, would painfully bang into the side walls.

Sitting in a cramped plane seat couldn't have been any better. Cav has a rather sturdy rump and hindquarters anyway — those seats must be a real squeeze. Now imagine how he experienced the journey with open skin and seeping wounds, still warm from friction with the bitumen.

In fact, it wouldn't surprise if the Giro organisers had taken over the entire first class section of the plane and issued seats to all those injured by Ferrari — they'd definitely have enough takers for the upgrade.

Looking at the replay from above, you can see the damage done to FDJ pair William Bonnet and Michael Delage. Luckily Arnaud Demare was not involved, nor was the team's surprise third place finisher on Saturday's stage two — otherwise there would been, ahem, Soupe all over the road.

Worst off from the pile-up — besides Cavendish and Phinney — was Farnese Vini's Pier Paolo de Negri, whose fall looked even more spectacular for his team's bright yellow jersey. It could have been worse for fluorescent Farnese were it not for Andrea Guardini's instinctive swerve and, best of all, Elia Favilli's astonishing bunny hop over a prone Cavendish.

Of anyone yesterday, Favilli deserves a medal — his jump probably saved a whole lot of other riders from hitting the deck. Just the sight of that much yellow sliding across the deck would have probably blinded at least half a dozen into the barricades.

Of course, the victims of Ferrari's high-speed crash were not just those who were left picking lumps of concrete out of their limbs with tweezers; spare a thought for Australia's Matt Goss, who won his team Orica GreenEdge their first ever Grand Tour stage win, only for no one whatsoever to talk about it.

After a shaky start to the season, Goss is riding back into some form. A string of second places in Turkey was followed by second place to Cavendish on Sunday. On Monday, his team-mates gave him an ideal lead-out and he had the luxury of being able to attack from the front with a clear stretch of road ahead of him, unlike Cavendish, who was boxed in and forced to come from distance.

Just as Cavendish was floored so spectacularly by Ferrari, it looked as if the world champion had found his rhythm. Cavendish was returning fast and Saddles thinks that if the win was unlikely, he would certainly have taken second place.

That would have put the two rivals and former HTC team-mates at one stage and one second place apiece. As it is, Cavendish will have to resume his sprinting duties on Thursday still raw and tender from his fall.

Devil's advocate would say that that's just the kind of handicap Goss needs to equal things out when the two come head-to-head without the distractions of a flash Ferrari.

Finally, back to Ferrari, and it's hard to see how he can recover from this one. The 29-year-old will be a marked man in the peloton, and surely subject to constant antagonism and sledging.

The peas from the airline flight will become bidons of water and spatters of energy gel once the riders hit the roads of Italy; Cavendish will remember his own painful visits to the airline toilet by misdirecting the arrow of his roadside calls of nature; BMC will no doubt employ their Swiss heavies to do something equally gross.

Heck, even Ferrari's team-mates will be giving him the cold shoulder: can you imagine anyone wanting to follow his wheel during Wednesday's team time trial in Verona?

Blazin' Saddles / Eurosport

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