Monday, May 4, 2009

An American in Italy - 2005 & 2008 - DZ

When Zabriskie gets the green light to go all out in a time trial, watch out. There was no doubt that the 26-year-old Zabriskie, the US national time trial champion, was talented in racing against the clock, but even Zabriskie wasn't quite expecting the outcome of stage eight's 45-kilometre journey from Lamporecchio to Firenze during the 2005 Giro d'Italia.

"I remember that I was one of the earlier riders and I was told to go all out so Ivan [Basso] could have my split times," said Zabriskie. "I knew every bit of the road because we'd done training camps there earlier that winter so I was pretty familiar with it. I just went out and had a good ride."

"I didn't go into it thinking I'd win," said Zabriskie who was in his first year of riding for Bjarne Riis' Team CSC squad. "Then I had to wait around a long time. At one point I felt that I was going to win, and then I forgot about Ivan. He came through only a couple of seconds behind me and after he came through I knew that I won.

Zabriskie blazed through the hilly 45-kilometre time trial in 58:13 to beat his teammate Ivan Basso by 17 seconds and eventual 2005 Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli by 44 seconds.

Zabriskie was also a key member of the Slipstream Chipotle squad's winning team time trial performance in the opening stage of the 2008 Giro d'Italia.

"It was what we all went there to do. We all spent time in Girona getting ready for it and it was a pretty big deal for us.

"It was very exciting. I was only there for two days unfortunately, but it was a good win.

Unfortunately for Zabriskie, he crashed during stage two and had to abandon due to a fractured first vertebrae.

Zabriskie is typically blunt when considering what makes the Giro d'Italia a unique experience.

"The thing with the Giro is they try to make it as insane as possible for the benefit of the spectators. The transfers are just out of this world and you're sitting in the bus about as much time as you're racing.

"It used to be the easier of the three Grand Tours, more mellow and relaxed, but ever since I started doing it in 2005 I think it's gotten a lot more competitive and the riders don't take it as easy as they used to.

"I never got to experience the easy days of the Giro. It's still controlled somewhat, but it's definitely intense. In 2007 it seemed like we'd have a pretty hard day on then an easier day. One day on, one day off.

Zabriskie will ride the centenary Giro d'Italia for Garmin-Slipstream and should be a threat in all of the tests against the clock. The final day's time trial in Rome holds special significance for the Utah native.

"That's my son's one-year birthday."


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