Italy! Oh Italy! You were looking terribly sexy today. Certainly much sexier than the very grey, rainy London I was in. I like a foreign Grand Depart as much as the next girl but it’s feels *right* when the race goes back to its country of origin. I’m really not sure about the idea of a grand tour start on an entirely different continent. It effectively creates two distinct races: one consisting of three stages, a (realistically) 2-3 day gap to allow for travel, jet lag, etc., then an 18 stage grand tour. It would be a logistical challenge for the teams, too. The big teams (Sky, BMC and Etixx) could probably afford to have two sets of staff working on the race but it would be more difficult financially for the smaller teams unless it was subsidised by the race organisers.
The race took a 3 hour trip from The Netherlands to southern Italy yesterday by aeroplane. I suppose it would have taken too long for the riders to pile into the Vengabus and do a road trip. The crowds on the roadside were considerably smaller than in Holland but it is the middle of the working week. I suppose that if a massive cycling race comes to your town every 2-3 years you get complacent about it. I wouldn’t. I’d be one of those overexcited people jumping up and down on the roadside wearing a mankini and screaming in the riders’ faces. (I have form with this – TdF 2014 – although thankfully I wasn’t wearing the mankini at the time.)
Today Diego Ulissi won a stage that was designed for the puncheurs. Lovely Tom Dumoulin finished second and took the Maglia Rosa back from Marcel Kittel who, despite finishing a few minutes down still managed to style out an interview with Ashley (I remember him from Fame Academy) House and Juan Antonio (Friendly Bond villain) Flecha on Eurosport wearing a pair of sunglasses that made him look like Val Kilmer in Top Gun. I can’t take any credit for this one. Rob (sounds 95% less northern on telly than he does on The Cycling Podcast) Hatch highlighted the likeness on Eurosport the other day. Mr WtW and I now disagree on who Kittel looks like most. He’s sticking with Justin Bieber.
I’ll just leave this here.
It’s International Top Gun Day on Friday (really) so this is a theme that I may well revisit. I’m sure Tom Dumoulin would let Marcel Kittel be his wingman anytime.
As we’re only four stages in it’s hard to see how things will play out in the general classification. Nibali has adopted a watching brief. He’s always where he needs to be but isn’t making a nuisance of himself yet, like a shark. Apt. I suspect that Landa isn’t quite in the form that he needs to be and he’s going to struggle in the upcoming time trials. It’s difficult to discount Valverde (but I always try to) and I’m pleased to see that Esteban Chaves is nicely placed in the top ten.
Stage 5 looks distinctly lumpy so goodness only knows what’s going to happen. I predict a breakaway, a couple of crashes, a sighting of Adam Hansen and possibly a riot. Maybe one for the sprinters.