18 May 2013

Ignoring the GIro

I had been ignoring this year's Giro d'Italia through its first 12 stages.  I have nothing particular against the Giro.  Indeed, I like it.  It is always seems bigger, sexier, wilder, more fun.  And pink.  Very pink.

But I have done my very best to take an extended vacation from anything to do with professional road cycling.

To me, ignoring the entire sport seemed like the only possible response to the Lance Armstrong brouhaha -- the final year or two of denials, followed by the weak confession on Oprah, the inevitable renewed lawsuits, accusations against the UCI, etc., etc.  It made me want to just ride my own bike and not pay any attention to professionals racing.

My office is across the street and down the block from the Trek Bicycles concept store at the back of Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, and every time I walk by it, my blood pressure rises.  I look at Trek as one of Lance's major enablers.  Maybe they were duped?  Who knows.  In any event, I am glad I never bought a Trek bicycle.  Maybe Trek will bring back the LeMond brand, which they allegedly shut down bowing to pressure from Lance after Greg LeMond dared speak the truth about Lance and his friend Dr. Ferrari?  LeMond now again seems to be the face of U.S. cycling, and if he were again associated with Trek, then I might feel like setting foot inside the shop, at least to take a look.

Anyway, even with Lance gone, too much doubt remains.  What about Wiggins' remarkable 2012? Can we trust the results, knowing what we now know?  Sure, the sport seems to be much cleaner than it was ... but the same could have been said 5 years ago.  There are still deeply suspect (to me) riders like Contador and, until his retirement after winning at last year's Olympic Road Race, Vinokourov.

Then, I happened to turn on my PC last night and watch a little bit of streaming broadcast via steephill.tv -- there was a 9 person breakaway trying to hold off the peleton, only 10 or 20 seconds back as the race entered its last 10 kilometers.  I watched all the way through to the sprint finish, in which Mark Cavendish held off all comers (including Elia Viviani) to take a 4th stage victory.

I happened to check cyclingnews.com -- still in my browser's bookmarks, despite my extended vacation -- and peak at the upcoming stages.  Wow.  They will go over the 2000+ meter elevation Sestriere on Stage 14.  Then Stage 15 takes them into France, along part of the route I rode in the 2011 Etape -- from Modane down a valley, then up onto the climb over Col du Telegraphe, through Valloire and then to the 2600+ meter Col du Galibier, a real monster of a climb.

And then there is Stage 19, on Wednesday.  They start at Pont di Legno, the South Tyrolian ski resort where we enjoyed a tribute to Marco Pantani after climbing the Mortirolo during Transalp 2011.  They climb the Gavia (2600+ elev), then the Stelvio (2750+ meters elev), then a third 22km climb to Val Martello (2050+ meter elev).  Over 4300 meters of climbing in a 138km stage, after nearly 3 weeks of racing.  Ouch.

No matter how much I know that I should ... I cannot stay away any longer.  At least until the next doping scandal.


Postscript:  A few hours after writing the note above, the weather caused a major route change.

No Sestriere today.  And very likely no Galibier tomorrow.

That is another feature of the Giro -- by racing in May and trying to go over the highest passes in the Alps, inevitably the race's reach exceeds its grasp!

Second Postscript:  They made it onto the Galibier ... moved the finish down 4 kilometers.  But the Gavia and Stelvio are now removed from Stage 19 ...  Still, the last 2 stages look very good, even without the highest passes.  I might even watch a bit.

1 comment:

racejunkie said...

I hope you don't give up on pro cycling. Despite the flaws--and sometimes outright disgusting behavior--of certain members of the pro peloton, which continue I'm sure as we speak, the Giro's (and others are too) still a beautiful race!