Who Dat?

Back in the 80s, long before the X-Games existed, Tom Haig traveled the world as an extreme athlete. He visited more than 50 countries as an international high diver, doing multiple somersault tricks from over 90 feet.

That life came crashing down one Sunday morning in 1996. While training on his mountain bike, he smashed into the grill of a truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. But less than a year later he completed a 100-mile ride on a hand-cycle and traveled by himself to Europe and the Middle East.

Since then he has continued to travel the world as a consultant, writer and video producer. He spent six months launching a Tibetan radio station in the Himalayas and shot documentary shorts on disability in Bangladesh, France, Albania, Ghana and most recently Nepal.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stage 10 - Tuesday, May 19: Cuneo - Pinerolo, 262km

Di Luca – a la Armstrong

In a stage that went through the same town that launched Lance Armstrong into international superstardom, Danilo Di Luca did his best Armstrong imitation, breaking from an elite group while wearing the race leader’s jersey and taking a major stage.

When the Giro’s course was announced in December, race organizers were pointing to the 9th and 10th stages as a mid-race boost to keep the Tiofosi energized through the middle of the 3-week race. But due to a rider-safety protest organized by the heads of the peloton, yesterday’s circuit race around Milan was neutralized to a 13 kilometer sprint course. And what the riders couldn’t modify, the Roman gods did. An April earthquake’s least tragic effect was the nullification of three major climbs in today’s tenth stage.

But with ten-kilometers left in the 262-kilometer blast through the Italian Alps, Di Luca accelerated up the final small climb of the day and gave him just enough distance to sprint through Pinerolo for a ten-second win. The stage victory increased his overall lead to one minute twenty seconds over Rabobank’s Russian standout Denis Menchov and 1:33 over the Australian Michael Rodgers, riding for Portland’s team Columbia.

Both American superstars, riding for the near-defunct Astana team, rode well finishing 29 seconds back. But what was a strong sign for Armstrong (18th @ 5:28) may prove to be a bitter disappointment for Levi Leipheimer. Armstrong, recovering from an early season collarbone fracture stayed with the lead pack proving he may be coming back into form six weeks before the July 4th Tour de France start in Monaco. Leipheimer, now in 4th, let Di Luca slide away extending his lead to 1:40 over the Californian who desperately wants to cap off a tremendous career with a grand tour win.

For the better part of the day it looked like the mountaintop town of Sestriere, would be the scene of yet another cycling comeback story. 2000 Giro winner Stefano Garzelli topped the ski resort town at kilometer 200 with a 6:15 advantage over the Pink Jersey of Di Luca. But Sestriere wasn’t as kind to Garzelli as it was to Armstrong in the 1999 Tour de France. On that day, Armstrong, less than a year after cancer surgery, rode away from the best conditioned athletes in the world on his way to his first of seven Tour victories. Unfortunately on this day, Garzelli couldn’t hold off a slew of select climbers and was caught just minutes away from the finish line.

Tomorrow’s 214 km stage from the Olympic town of Torino to the shores of the Mediterranean in Genoa, should prove to be a sprinter’s paradise. Look for Team Columbia’s Mark Cavendish to resume his feud with Italian superstar Alessandro Petacchi.


  1. How come they didn't just ride mountain bikes around Milan and thru L'Aquila?

  2. They do - just not for millions of Euro's/day.