On to the fourth-last stage of this year's Giro, and the Italian team were still without a scalp. This time 12 months ago, the team had netted the TTT and individual victories for both Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali; Basso was primed for the overall maglia rosa, and Nibali third spot on the podium.
Well, Nibs may still yet finish runner-up in the 2011 Giro, but the 94th edition of the race had been pretty rotten so far for a team with such lofty expectations.
Granted, Alberto Contador seems as unstoppable as a raging Basque bull fattened on Clenbuterol - but failing to win a stage on the home tour would have been tantamount to leaving a plate of mama's bolognaise half finished (or not living at home until you're 34).
With time running out, Liquigas directeur sportif Mario Scirea must have delivered to his boys in green a rather stern talking to.
And presumably, new boy Eros Capecchi, being the youngest buck of the bunch and experiencing his first year in Liquigas colours, was goofing around at the back of the team bus when Scirea shouted out, "Capisce, Capecchi? Diami una vittoria!"
And so the 24-year-old duly obliged with a fizzy finish in San Pellegrino. Psyched up, Eros outsprinted his compatriot Marco Pinotti (without the need to push him twice and throw a tantrum in doing so) to seal the biggest win of his career - and save Liquigas's blushes.
Of course, there may be a science in Nibali's finishing this year. So far in this year's Giro, the Shark has finished once in every top 10 position with the exception of 9th and 1st.
With three days to go, Nibali has a realistic chance of securing what would surely be the most unusual spread of results ever to be seen in a Grand Tour. Beat that, Alberto.
- Vincenzo Nibali
- Ivan Basso
- Alberto Contador
- Eros Capecchi