Redemption, drama, and the road up Genna Silana

Giro D’Italia: Stage 2 – Olbia to Tortoli (221km)

Today’s Bardiani “atonement” breakaway rider was Simone Andreetta.

The race would be between Daniel Teklehaimanot and Evgeny Shalanov. At least bit where they climbed the Genna Silana would be.

They were the last of the day’s initial breakaway, and were sparring on their way up the Category-2 climb. But with 3 km to go the peloton was closing in fast.

Teklehaimanot wanted the KOM points, and the jersey that came with it. He’d wanted the same a day earlier, but found himself repeatedly punished each time he tried to reach the line first, mainly by Cesare Benedetti, but also by whoever else had the legs to get past. Like Shalunov’s teammate Pavel Brutt, who had evidently dropped back to his team car to collect salt to rub on Teklehaimanot’s wounds as he edged him on the line.

Like the very best herculean efforts, it had come to nothing. Reached the summit Teklehaimanot’ legs seemed to stop temporarily in front of thousands of pink clad fans… he was almost knocked over by a balloon.

So Shalunov was more than happy to play the bogeyman.

But even as TV pictures caught glimpse of Teklehaimanot rubbing his thighs, and later flinging his arm about to get the blood working, the Eritrean looked the stronger. We knew this. Shalunov knew this. He would have to try every trick in the book.

Shalunov tries to Marty McFly technique of getting out of a tough spot

He attacked once, then attacked again. But each time Teklehaimanot managed to haul him back. Then Shalunov attempted the Marty McFly “what the hell is that!?” system, pointing over the shoulder of Teklehaimanot at an enormous make-believe threat with big teeth and claws. Teklehaimanot was unmoved.

After all he was in the breakaway for the second time, on course for the Fuga Pinarello prize awarded to the rider — or lunatic depending on your point of view — who spends the most time as part of the break. You don’t do that sort of thing without intent, which in Teklehaimanot’s case meant the KOM jersey, which he intended to win even if it meant his teammates would have to scoop him off the road at the finish and push him to the hotel in a shopping trolley.

Teklehaimanot uses the last of his energy to raise his thumb

As the peloton surged into view Teklehaimanot left Shalunov to be swallowed up, and powered through the last 200 meters to the summit alone, collecting the 15 points to finally put him in blue. It worked. Teklehaimanot would end the day as the first Eritrean to lead the KOM in the Giro – a point he probably realised as he hung his arms over his handlebars, exhausted, and gave the camera a thumbs up.

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