Giro d’Italia 2016 – week three

The Giro is over for another year and I’m feeling quite sad about it. I really, desperately wanted Esteban Chaves to win. He was one of my ‘Ones to watch’ at the start and unlike Tom Dumoulin (remember him?) and Ryder Hesjedal (nope) he was still in there at the end. I had brief hopes that he would win the Maglia Rosa, but it was not to be. Vincenzo Nibali had a very bad day on Thursday and it looked like all was lost, but he rose again over the last couple of days and entered today’s processional final stage as the winner. Nibali won the Giro for the head, but Chaves has emerged as the winner for those who love heart. The images of Chaves’ parents congratulating Nibali after yesterday’s stage spoke volumes about their family ethos and explained so much about their son. When Rigoberto Uran, riding for Cannondale, crashed today, Chaves was there to help his compatriot up. Chaves always thanks his Orica team-mates for their help. They in turn look genuinely happy to be working for him.

I’m an unashamed fan of Geraint Thomas. When the rumours started swirling that a British rider had failed a doping test last month, before it was confirmed that Simon Yates, a number of people on social media were concerned that it might be Thomas and seemed to be genuinely upset at the thought that he might be one of the bad ones.  I felt extremely unsettled. I believe that Thomas is clean and he’d be one of the very few that I would feel personally let down by if it emerged that he was anything else. I feel the same way about Esteban Chaves. I think he’s terrific and would love to see him win a Grand Tour one day. His day will surely come.

Of my other ones to watch, Adam Hansen finished his fourteenth Grand Tour in a row and will surely have his sights on the Tour. Joe Dombrowski came of age, appearing in many of the right moves in the last week and coming very close to a stage win. His fury at being called back by Cannondale to help Uran indicated that he believed he was capable of so much more. We believe it, too. Ian Boswell did stirlimg domestique work for Team Sky, helping Mikel Nieve to win the overall King of the Mountains classification. Sky will regard this as a good return, bearing in mind that they lost their team leader to illness very early on.

Every year the Giro intensifies my love affair with Italy and refuels my desire to go back there one day. I very much hope that at some point in the future I’ll be standing on the Dolomites roaring Geraint Thomas or Esteban Chaves on their way to overall victory. The Tour might be The Tour, but after this Giro it has an awful lot to live up to.

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Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 13

Finally! After two weeks of messing about with sprint stages and time trials, the Giro organisers jacked the road up and sent the riders up some proper mountains. Not the Dolomites. Not yet. The roads definitely went uphill today in quite a serious manner though.

The peloton was BLOWN TO PIECES (Millar!) early on and we were treated to extended footage of spectators in ill-advised costumes chasing cyclists up steep climbs. Joe Dombrowski was given carte blanche by Cannondale to go up the road and fight for the stage win. For a little while we watched his beanpole frame tower over the comparatively diminutive Mikel Nieve. The height disparities between cyclists never fails to childishly amuse me. Nieve is one of Sky’s ‘Embarrassment of riches’ riders. In any other team he’d be given more chances but he’s such a brilliant little mountain goat that he’s become the ultimate domestique (Side note: if I ever become a superstar DJ my name will be Superdomestique. All one word.)

Vincenzo Nibali continues to be there or there abouts, circling like a….you get the idea. I simply cannot take him seriously any more thanks to Daniel Friebe’s nightly readings from Nibali’s autobiography on The Cycling Podcast. The snippets have been chosen to emphasise the worst, most lavicious bits of course, but he comes across as a man who uses his (ahem) libido as a spiritual guide. Nibali that is. Not Friebe. I have no idea about his libido.

I’m really please to see Team Sky giving it a proper go and chasing stage wins. I tend to get a bit frustrated with Sky when their Plan A doesn’t work out, the computer says no, the numbers can’t be crunched and they don’t appear to have an alternative strategy. I have noticed a certain loosening up of their self-imposed constraints this year, which is pleasing. Of course, losing Landa has rather forced their hand but it does Sky no harm to loosen the shackles of their worker bees from time to time. Nieve’s stage win today is evidence of that.

Andrey Amador (Movistar) moved into the Maglia Rosa, the first rider (ever?) from Costa Rica to do so. I hope Valverde is grumbling like Muttley (vasher-smashed-vas her) in a hotel room at the foot of the Dolomites this evening as a result.

Tomorrow the race moves to the Dolomites properly and I finally get to write DOL-O-MI-TEE-HEE. Hurrah!

Wtw has been a gif-free zone for a couple of days (it’s hard to top crying Dawson) but as I’m about to watch the Tour of California, appropos of nothing, here’s Seth Cohen from The OC!

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Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 11

Put Careless Whisper on the turntable. Play Back for Good on repeat. Lovely Tom Dumoulin has left the Giro, taking his saddle sores with him. What a difference a week makes. Last Wednesday Dumoulin and Kittel were still in the race and I was all joy and Top Gun Gifs. Now I feel like Dawson (from the Creek, obvs.)

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As we’re now half-way through the Giro, let’s see what’s happened to the riders I said I would watch out for at the start of the race:

  1. Adam Hansen – there’s been a serious lack of visible Hansen in this Giro. I’m hoping that changes in the next few days.
  2. Esteban Chaves – currently 8th overall, nearly 3 minutes behind Bob Jungels. Looking forward to seeing how he goes in the mountains
  3. Ian Boswell – doing well in domestique hell
  4. Joe Dombrowski – doing well in domestique hell
  5. Ryder Hesjedal – currently 13th, nearly 4 minutes down. Hoping he goes hunting for stage wins in the last week of the Giro. Looked feisty today which bodes well.
  6. Tom Dumoulin – retired, injured *wails*

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Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 1

So. It’s highly unlikely that I’ll be able to do a post on every stage because, y’know, life and stuff but the beginning is always a good place to start.

Italy! Oh Italy! I love you so. Your food, your mountains and your accents. HANG ON. We’re in Holland for the first three stages. Accents? Yes(h). Food and mountains? Not so much. No Wout Poels, either. That’s sad. I’m guessing he’s on the Dauphine-TdF track this year and probably still basking in the glow of winning Sky their first Monument at L-B-L a few weeks ago.

There are no British riders at the Giro either, so it’s a case of following people I like for a range of hard to pin down and highly subjective reasons. In no particular order: Adam Hansen, Esteban Chaves, Tom Dumoulin, Ian Boswell, Ryder Hesjedal and Joe Dombrowski. Having named them as ones to watch will immediately put the mockers on them. I can only apologise in advance. Note that I wrote this after Dumoulin won the time-trial and the Maglia Rosa this afternoon. If he ends up coming to grief in a race-ending crash tomorrow I will blame myself.

I know there are A LOT of people that don’t really like time trials in Grand Tours. I’m an incredibly boring person with a trackie heart so I LOVE them. They’re an ideal way to give each of the 198 riders a moment in the spotlight, they’re an excellent introduction to the event itself and they’re 98% less likely to result in someone getting a bit overexcited in a bunch sprint and playing an ill-advised game of human and bike dominoes. I prefer an ITT to a TTT because it’s always a bit painful to watch some poor sod get distanced after the first corner and struggle like a salmon swimming upstream to desperately latch on to the bike-n-bum immediately in front.

The main problem with the ITT is that you have to sit through a lot of cyclists who clearly hate time trialling and have just been told to get to the end in the least onerous manner possible to get to the really good ones. I was once shown Tinder by a young, single work colleague (having been married for the last 12 years this stuff has passed me by, thank god) and after my initial horror at the objectification and general awfulness found myself shouting YES! NO! HOT! OH GOD NO! SWIPE THE OTHER WAY! WHAT IS THAT? NO! It reminds me of that, a bit, in the sense that there’s some diamonds amongst the dross but they might ultimately disappoint you by sending over a photo of their man-parts. (See, they might win the ITT but they won’t win the whole shebang, capisce?)

Anyway. Dumoulin won today. I know I shouldn’t, but whenever I see him I spend several seconds assessing whether he’s good looking or not. Half of me thinks yes and the other half thinks Canadian tennis player of the mid-late 1990s (not Rusedski. The other one. Nestor.) I mean, it’s entirely irrelevant but I can’t help it. The main thing is that he’s a bit good at time trialling and the Vuelta showed he can also do mountains so he might do ok.

Tomorrow involves sprinting and possibly some difficult wind, so I’m off to eat some Edam and a crepe in preparation.