The Giro d’Italia to be re-routed?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, known as il Risorgimento, “the Resurgence”. 150 years ago this week the citadel of Gaeta, about halfway between Rome and Naples, surrendered after a two month siege and King Vittorio Emanuele II proclaimed the nation unified.

Giro 2011 percorso

The 2011 edition of the Giro d’Italia promises to be one of the hardest editions ever and has the risorgimento
as its theme. The three race will go from Turin to Milan, via Scicily in the south and over many of the hardest mountain passes in the Alps.

But I am now wondering if there will be an additional stage from Milan to Lausanne, Switzerland. Because Alberto Contador’s return to the Giro could be against the backdrop of an appeal at the CAS. Just as Alejandro Valverde raced the Tour of Romandie only to get a ban from the CAS and see his results stripped, with Lampre’s Simon Špilak becoming the official winner, the very same thing could happen once again in the Giro.

Contador is free to race, even with an appeal going on. But should the appeal result in a ban, this is highly likely to be backdated to the date of the original adverse findings for Clenbuterol last July. Any subsequent results gained since then will be scratched. Contador’s already a favourite for the race,  he won the 2008 edition after entering at the last minute. This leads to the worrying scenario of the Giro being determined not by three weeks of racing on the roads of Italy but in an office in Switzerland. The Lausanne stage could prove more critical than the ascension of the Zoncolan.

Chateau Bethusy

The queen stage

Faced with this I’m already confused. I am looking forward to the race but the Spaniard’s presence troubles me. Will I watch the race only to see the results changed and overturned?

If I have doubts, then the views of RCS are the real interest. Race organiser Angelo Zomegnan has already said he doesn’t want Danilo Di Luca back and whilst The Killer has a legal right to race with Katusha, it’s another thing to be welcomed by the Giro, the door can be shut. A decision will likely be a commercial one: RCS will review whether the spectacle offered by Contador, and the added Spanish interest in the race, can outweigh the humiliation of seeing the race re-written.

For what it’s worth, I think the Giro promises to be The Race of 2011. It is an event bigger than any rider and in the name of sport, it cannot risk the spectre of the result being switched by a court. The first call should not be to block Contador but to push for the UCI and WADA to act as fast as possible with a view to resolving this headache before 29 May.

beev February 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm

The giro is THE stage race in any given year – well, generally speaking in terms of pure racing it is. Personally, i think AC would be well advised to do the Giro and avoid the Tour this year. Regardless of your feelings on the latest turn of events or on the man himself, all riders at the Tour would then know that they are competing without the #1 Tour rider present. A win is a win, but there will always be that little voice that says you beat the opposition present, but not the best possible opposition.

Additionally, i think such a move would be better on two more counts; it would avoid “chaingate – the rematch” and all that bobbins that would be hyped around the Tour, and also engender better harmony in the team – allowing Richie to be undisputed leader in the “marquee” event (not for me mind) – something that i’m sure Riis has at the back of his mind….

Giro fan February 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I can’t wait for the Giro but if Contador is there at the same time as an appeal then it’s going to look dumb. What is the timing, can this be sorted before?

Always like the picture captions.

The Inner Ring February 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm

beev: with you that the Giro is a big race. But the champagne sprayed on the podium can’t go back in the bottle, to see a rider win only for the result to change is a big blow. Imagine watching not knowing who wins; we might still see a contest on TV but the official result could be up for grabs in court. We need better than this.

Giro fan: see my “Call the CAS” piece that I put out today, http://inrng.com/?p=1059

Larry T. February 16, 2011 at 11:56 pm

I was hoping NOT to see “Il Pistolero” at the 2011 Giro. But if he’s cleared to race what can be done? The promoters like RCS take a risk when they exclude someone not under official sanction, just because of their past performance/doping issues. I hope the plastic molecule test can be fast-tracked so past samples can be tested BEFORE the big races get underway but that’s wishful thinking. When/if BigTex is brought down, it might finally be enough to blow the sport up entirely so it can be rebuilt without the corruption that’s been a part of it seemingly since it began.

grolby February 17, 2011 at 12:13 am

beev, the problem with that argument is that Merckx, Anquetil, Poulidour, Gaul, etc aren’t at the Tour either. That’s the logical extension of it – you can come up with any hypothetical “better” opposition that you want. The Tour is really hard, but you have to show up. I suppose you could argue that Roche and Delgado would never have won the Tour if LeMond hadn’t been recovering from being shot, and you’d very likely be right, but that doesn’t reduce the prestige or challenge of victory. The level of competition is such that, no matter what, you’re making your maximum effort to win the race.

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