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.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stage 14: Campi Bisenzio to San Luca (Bologna) 172 KM

Two Kilometers of Hell

(Results and replays at www.universalsports.com)

Simon Gerrans (AUS – Cervelo) out lasted his breakaway companions, gutting out the torturous final two kilometers to Bologna’s Madonna di San Luca chapel to take the 14th stage of the 2009 Giro.

The short yet severe climb (16% grade at points) to the highest point in Bologna blew apart the peloton and cost American Levi Leipheimer (Astana) three precious seconds to his overall rivals, Danilo Di Luca (ITA – LPR Brakes) and Denis Menchov (RUS – Rabobank). With two-thirds of the Giro in hand, Menchov holds only 34 seconds on Di Luca and 43 on Leipheimer. Leipheimer’s superstar teammate, Lance Armstrong, lost 50 seconds to the leaders even though he started the final climb alongside them.

Even the great Armstrong now takes a turn as a domestique.

Up until those final two kilometers, the contending teams held their cards close to their jerseys during a mountainous stage in which many thought one of the leading teams would try a break. But a ten-man breakaway of non-contenders spent most of the day a few minutes up the road from a tight peloton, guarded at the front by the top three teams.

Tomorrow stage to Faenza should be a nervous ride as there is one major climb and several smaller hills that could pose problems. But the riders will have Monday’s mountaintop finish in Monte Petrano on their minds before expending too much effort. After an unsuspectedly grueling mid-tour week, Tuesday’s rest day should find most of these riders horizontal and sucking fluids.

(Universal Sports screenshot image)

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