Blazin' Saddles

Grizzled Garzelli crowned King

Blazin' Saddles

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Ten years after his overall win in the Giro, Stefano Garzelli became the King of Corones after winning his ninth career victory on his home Tour.

Garzelli, who rides for the Soap & Water team, has come on a long way since his time as a domestique for Marco Pantani (who taught him all he knew about hairdressing).

And after a stellar performance on Tuesday's hellish 12.9km individual mountain time trial up the snow-capped peak of Plan de Corones, the bald 36-year-old rolled back the years as he razzed it up on the podium, a fake gold crown in one hand, a stuffed mountain ram in the other, and two extremely tall Giro girls either side of him.

It was Garzelli's first major win for three years and, after a woeful start, Italy's fifth stage in as many days on the Giro.

Not much is known about Garzelli's private life, but in an attempt to pad out this blog, Saddles will share what he does know.

Apparently a penchant for papier mache got Garzelli into puppetry and mask-making at the turn of the century. The Italian became so good he had to employ (rather controversially) a right-hand man - a masking agent if you will - to help him with his busy schedule. In 2002 Garzelli dropped the hobby all of a sudden and took some time out.

Anyway, back to stage 16 and a few observations from what was another enthralling - and stunning - day in the saddle.

World champion Cadel Evans chose to forgo his rainbow stripes and instead zipped down the starting ramp in a rare but rather fetching all-red number.

BS's initial reaction was one of fear: the rainbow seems to be powering Evans this season in the same way that Iron Man Tony Stark thrives on that electromagnet embedded in his chest.

But the Australian was pretty strong - certainly in the first half - and managed to win back time from rival Ivan Basso, despite the Italian being pushed practically half the way up the finish straight by a sinister-looking bearded giant of a man.

Basso wasn't the only rider being pursued by a figure on foot. David Arroyo's mechanic not only ran after the maglia rosa for much of the steepest part of the final dirt track section - but he did so while rolling along a spare bike just in case the Spaniard got a flat at a rather inopportune moment. Talk about dedication, but what's next - Usain Bolt being employed to support Cav in the Tour?

What else did Saddles see? Unknown Frenchman John Gadret riding an astonishing second half to move up from 11th to third place at the finish. Carlos Sastre's crucifix may have been on display but it didn't stop the hot-and-cold Cervelo leader posting a rather di-Sastre-ous time.

Oh, and Astana's Rigoberto Uran Uran may have been Hungry Like The Wolf on his way to the 360-degree-View-to-a-Kill from the summit, but he's still two Ds short of new wave pop rock stardom.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "That's not bad. It's not super but it's not bad." Could Cadel Evans be the next Judd Apatow?

Follow Blazin' Saddles throughout the Giro on www.twitter.com/saddleblaze.

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