Agnoli proposes on air

Since Johan van Summeren made it fashionable to propose marriage to a girlfriend after a race finish, everyone seems to be doing it.

The latest was Liquigas domestique, Valerio Agnoli who, after finishing stage six to Fiuggi Terme, found his girlfriend in the studio and popped the question live on the post-race RAI show, Processo della Tappa.

She said yes. Rather than the distinctly-possible: “But you have to win Paris-Roubaix first.”

Introducing Martin Kohler, hero of the strade bianche

BMC rider Martin Kohler enjoyed several days in the maglia verde (king of the mountains) jersey this week, from Wednesday to Friday.

He did it the hard way too: a 160-kilometre lone break through stifling heat and over the strade sterrate on the road to Orvieto.

“It was not really the plan, but in the early stages, it’s always a good opportunity,” he told us. “During the stage I started to think about it but it wasn’t the first priority; I wanted to win the stage.

“I was happy to do the strade bianche alone so I had no stress, no fight for position, there was still a lot of dust.”

Martin Kohler on solo escape, Giro d

“When I heard I still had about five minutes I started thinking ‘maybe, maybe, could be a good day’, but I lost a lot of time on the strade bianche climb and when I started the climb to the finish, it was steep and I needed at least a minute. 20 or 15ks before Orvieto, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. It was a nice try,” he said.

25-year-old Kohler is in his third year as a pro on the ambitious BMC Racing Team. Is it another step in his career? “A big Grand Tour, we had the jersey for a few days and it’s been great,” he said.

Describing himself as more of an all-rounder, Kohler got into cycling after seeing the Tour de Suisse come by his house and because of his parents; before then, he was more into football.

Don’t be surprised to see him crop up in a few more breakaways in the next fortnight. “I’m happy about this, every day in the jersey was nice, but I’m still looking for some more. A lot of stages are coming. I’m still hungry,” he said.

Giro pays tribute to eight Lamezia cyclists who died

A fitting occurrence in a Giro that has already seen its own tragedy, the race yesterday paid tribute to a group of eight cyclists from Lamezia Terme who lost their lives on December 5 2010.

On the eighth stage between Sapri and Tropea, there was a special sprint where the tragic crash occurred, on the ss.18 crossroads of Sant’Eufemia-Lamezia.

Operational director Mauro Vegni also stopped and left flowers.

CW’s brush with Sastre

Pushing it late to get out of the start in windy Piombino on Wednesday, we elicited a worried shout from none other than Carlos Sastre.

We don’t think “knocking off Tour de France winner” is covered by our insurance.

Sorry Carlos.

Pressure builds

The pressure is building as the Giro approaches tomorrow’s stage to Mount Etna, which is not being helped by the long transfers and hot weather.

South African Robert Hunter (RadioShack) and Italian Francesco Masciarelli (Astana) nearly came to blows after the stage to Tropea yesteray. 

After HTC-Highroad’s Lars Bak led in the final kilometres for Mark Cavendish, Hunter attacked. It was short-lived, but he had to try.

“The #Giro isn’t kind to the sprinters this year,” said HTC’s Mark Renshaw via Twitter. “Always uphill or stupid crazy finishes… Bravo”

Their next chance won’t come until after Mount Etna and the rest day. In fact, there are only two more chances in the Giro d’Italia: stage 10 to Teramo and stage 12 to Ravenna. After Ravenna, expect many sprinters to say, “Arrivederci.”

Gregor Brown votes, Giro dTeam Cycling Weekly takes Giro prediction game win

The pressure had also been building in the Cycling Weekly camp. Gregor Brown suffered through the first eight days, ridiculed by his colleagues for missing out in the daily “Pronostico Giornalisti” or journalists predictions. (Photographer Graham Watson was especially harsh, considering he’s not even playing.)

After a strong lashing by the team’s sports director, er, Andy McGrath, Brown came through with the team’s first win. He scored ten points in yesterday’s stage to Tropea, two more than his nearest rival.

Oscar Gatto took €11,010 in prize money for his stage win today. Brown, however, was not far behind. 

Tomorrow in Messina, he’ll be awarded three bottles of wine – two Pinot Nero and one Riesling – plus a helmet and sunglasses.

Last night, over a candle-lit dinner in Tropea, the team decided whether it will continue aiming for the classification or shift its focus to stage wins.

Of note, like Bart De Clercq, Brown is a neo-pro in the Giro’s Pronostico.

Gregor Brown wins journo prediction prize

Best of Twitter

@albertocontador:

Long day at the Giro, 1:30h until the start, 217km [racing] and now 2h to the hotel, but it has been good, my team has done fantastic work. Thanks.