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 8

Distractions. Everything stops for Eurovision. I saw the last 50km of yesterday’s stage live (well, on my iPad, in the kitchen, helping the children to make cake pops) so I know that Gianluca Brambilla from Etixx won and took the Maglia Rosa from Tom Dumoulin.

There was A LOT of bellowing on the commentary about Dumoulin blowing up, losing it, fading. I wonder if, when it became apparent that he couldn’t keep the pink jersey without expending considerable effort, he decided to save himself for today’s individual time trial. We’ll find out later this afternoon.

More distractions. Tonight (in the UK), the Tour of California starts. When I looked at the Giro start list I struggled to find a handful of riders to take an interest in. I have no such problems with the ToC: Phinney, Wiggins, Geoghegan Hart, Cavendish, Brammeier, Eisel, Coquard, Boonen, Degenkolb, Kennaugh, Peters, Tennant, Dibben, Doull, Blythe, Sagan. Sagan! He’s a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, but he’s always entertaining. The ToC stages can be a bit variable – watching a bunch of cyclists trundle along a massive freeway for several hours at a time gets a bit dull – but the mountain stages and time trial more than make up for it.

Back to the Giro, I’m looking forward to the ITT although I won’t be able to watch it live. I’ll catch up this evening.

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Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 6

I must confess. I have not seen even a moment of today’s stage. The highlights clashed with the second Eurovision semi final which I absolutely have to watch live. (Yes, we have TiVo but I didn’t have a chance to set it.) It’s actually quite hard to watch every stage of a Grand Tour (live or highlights) if you’ve got a. A job and/or b. a life.

According to the official app Tim Wellens won the first mountain stage of this years’ Giro, the second stage win in a row for the Lotto Soudal team after Andre Greipel’s victory yesterday. Tom Dumoulin retains the Maglia Rosa in the #fightforpink

Tomorrow’s stage is one for the sprinters and it’s International Top Gun Day so I’m expecting a win for Iceman Kittel.

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Can’t stop, won’t stop the Gifs.

 

 

Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 3

Mr WtW read yesterday’s post and asked me to describe why Marcel Kittel’s hair is so magnificent. Mere words do not do Kittel’s hair justice, so I conducted a Google Image search and did a short show and tell session. His response?

Marcel Kittel looks like a hunky Justin Bieber.

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I’m not sorry for the insertion of this Bieber gif. 

As predicted by me and just about everyone else, Marcel Kittel won Stage 3 and took the Maglia Rosa in the process. Elia Viviani survived a contretemps with a Trek rider in the finishing straight to finish second, but really the rest were nowhere.

The end of Stage 3 marked the conclusion of the Giro’s trip to the Netherlands. The Dutch have taken the Grand Depart to their hearts in much the same fashion as Belfast did in 2014. The crowds looked huge (although how do you quantify ) the number of people in a crowd at any given moment?) and there were pink sheep and pink pubs along the route alongside the usual washing lines of pink t-shirts. I didn’t notice any pink tractors though, so it’s 1-0 to T’Tour T’Yorkshire on that score.

Tomorrow is a rest day and the race moves to Italy (Italy! Food! Mountains!) so I’ll spend the time finding more Justin Bieber gifs to misuse. I will also borrow Marcel Kittel’s and Tom Dumoulin’s cheekbones to grate some Parmesan. I could do with a new cheese grater.

 

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.