The Giro resumes

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Normally I’d be very excited about today’s stage of the Giro. Stage 5 from Piombino to Orvieto is a moderate 191km long but includes the sterrato or unpaved sections. The race leaves the Mediterranean, heading inland to use the strade bianche, white roads, of Tuscany as well as some climbs. But it’s impossible to forget Wouter Weylandt, any battles on dusty roads today just won’t have the same urgency or importance as they might normally get.

With Wouter Weylandt in mind, note the Leopard-Trek team have left the race. Yesterday’s stage must have been impossibly hard to ride for them. They’ll be back. The same for Tyler Farrar, he was very close to Weylandt and has returned home. If you’ve ever watched a Sporza internet stream and discovered Farrar speaking excellent Flemish in a post-race interview then a lot of this is because of time spent hanging out with Weylandt and others in the Ghent area.

The Leopard team have set up a way to donate money to Weylandt’s family. You’ll find full details for donations here and they’re working on adding a PayPal facility soon.

Back to the race
Anyway, with the heart and spirit somewhat subdued, here’s the profile of the end of the stage:

Ultimo Kilometro 5

Road book
The image above is from the Gazzetta dello Sport’s Giro website. It’s full of information about each stage with timings, profiles and other information.

But during the race riders, managers and the media carry the “road book” with them. This is a programme for the a race, a bound book of every stage complete with extra information, such the route to drive from the start to the finish of the stage for journalists as well as a map showing where the press room is. There are more precisions on the stage finish, right down to the road surfaces.

Normally it’s not public property but you can download it here: http://www.gazzetta.it/Speciali/Giroditalia/2011/it/GARIBALDI2011_new.pdf

HDMI
Finally a tech tip. You might already be watching the race live via an internet stream. The Giro offers its own stream for free, a great way to watch the race and for the event to promote itself around the world. Race organisers can tell potential sponsors of a giant audience. The only downside to the stream is that the image quality isn’t great, it’s often a bit small. You don’t miss the action but you get the detail plus sitting in front of a computer might not be as comfortable as sitting in front of your TV.

HDMI

So if you can, try using an HDMI cable to hook up your computer to your TV. Maybe you’ve done this already but I’ve been surprised by the boost to the image quality. It’s not amazingly better… but noticeable. It might just be my hardware so don’t rush out to buy new things. But if your computer and TV have HDMI sockets and you’ve got a cable nearby, give it a try.

Pin It

{ 14 comments }

Jason May 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Thanks for the roadbook, I’ve always wanted to read one of these.

Alex May 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Hi! Can you please tell me how can I find the official Giro internet stream? Tried to look on the Giro website but couldn’t find it.

Michael May 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm

@Alex….

http://videochat.gazzetta.it/index_giro.shtml

live coverage starts at 14:45 CET (8:45:00 AM EDT) today.

daniel alpin May 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm

wow the road-book is amazing!!!!

Kathy May 11, 2011 at 8:26 pm

It’s not only your hardware; I’ve used your HDMI suggestion before on other websites good results.

Beth May 11, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Inner Ring: Not a comment exactly; more a question. I had a really bad bike crash many years ago at the bottom of a steep hill, and it affected my nerve descending ever afterwards. I couldn’t even really enjoy it anymore. Johan Bruyneel was going on and on about his own spectacular crash in the TdF years ago. It was a bit weird to see him going on about it like that, but it is how we relate to horrible stuff I guess. My question is, how do you think this will affect the riders’ nerves for the rest of the race? We all know how nervous the riders already were, before Wouter’s accident. And the worst of the race is yet to come. Will Zomegnan dial it back or alter the route? I’m having a hard time getting interested in this particular Giro now.

The Inner Ring May 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Beth: like you, it’s hard for me to follow the racing with as much excitement. If anything the racing is a distraction when it’s on but reflecting on the stages before or after means thoughts turn to the tragedy and, rightly so, Weylandt’s death features prominently in thoughts as well as the media coverage too.

Many will have a different response, some will hang back but probably a few will be fearless, indeed foolish. Perhaps riders descending a big mountain pass with a cliff can see the risks and will take it easier, the incident on Monday was more on a road where you might not think of the dangers as quickly, you certainly can’t see them.

As you say, with the Bruyneel example, riders can have crashes and it’s been fortunate that when we’ve seen riders go over the edge they get back up. Many roads can have a sheer drop off the side.

Zomegnan has sent a team to Monte Crostis to review the safety again.

Larry T. May 12, 2011 at 12:16 am

Beth, I used to race AMA Superbikes (the motorcycle equivalent of NASCAR) so I’m far from “normal” but had colleagues fatally or horrible injured during my career. I think most of us who do dangerous things for fun are essentially fatalists — if your time’s up, it’s UP. You could be sitting in your home on the toilet, hitting the brakes on your Ducati at the end of the straightaway at 150 mph or racing down a steep, twisty descent on your bicycle…fate does not care. You can reply that taking chances increases the odds of getting killed but I wonder about the tiny child – the only survivor of an awful plane crash or the old lady pulled from the earthquake rubble days later, still alive. How did they survive? My answer is FATE. Italians are very much this way, one of our friends, when I asked why he didn’t seatbelt his kids in the car, replied — FATE. My fear was never death — it was serious, debilitating injury…ending as we joked, as a “talking head” or “wheelchair pilot.” But even guys like Wayne Rainey or Alessandro Zanardi seem to have enjoyable, fulfilling lives without the use of their legs. I still immensely enjoy a high-speed descent on a bicycle and having the best job in the world, get to indulge in them every summer in Italy. Our Vineyards to the Sea tour features some of the route the Giro took yesterday in fact. If a car coming up the road is taking your side of the road (like happened to Marco Pantani at Milano-Torino 1995) and you can’t avoid it, it’s gonna hurt and you might be killed…but I trust my skill (and have avoided just this scenario more than once over the years) and reactions….and FATE. Simple, irrational fear stops way too many people (I’m not talking about fearless, “immortal” teenagers here–they have no fear) from reaching their dreams. You can’t go on racing (or even riding a bike for that matter) if you can not put that fear out of your mind. Have I crashed descending on a bicycle? Yes. Do I know how the crashes happened? Certainly. Do I avoid those mistakes nowadays? Of course. Am I afraid? I take it a bit easier these days when the smart half of my marraige reminds me how upset the clients would be if yours truly fell off and hurt himself, compromising their tour/vacation experience..but now I always wear my helmet (not something I did religiously before) but still think about how much I’m going to enjoy that descent as I labor up the climb!

James May 12, 2011 at 12:36 am

I have Dish Network here in the US and I was scrolling through all of their available stations looking for Universal Sports, which I get locally. I wanted something I could record on the DVR because the race is too early in the day for me. Well imagine my surprise when I saw RAI as an option! I called Dish, added the extra subscription at an extra 10 bucks per month and I’m good to go. I speak no Italian other than the basics but who cares! It’s easy enough to figure out what’s going on. Unfortunately the day I got it was the day that Wouter Weylandt passed away. I couldn’t believe what had happened.
Today’s stage was great going over the Strade Bianche. It was nice to see fans on the road side holding signs with Wouter’s number 108. I hope they continue throughout the race as it’s a nice tribute.

Larry T. May 12, 2011 at 4:18 am

We had DishNetwork awhile back solely because they offered RAI TV. Now we have the computer connected to the TV and get it via Universal Sports, mostly because there’s not a lot on Italian TV the rest of the year, with the exception of a few other races, but we had a tough time figuring out when they would be shown. Thanks to Inner Ring for the tip on the Garibaldi! I downloaded and will take it to a printer tomorrow. They’ve sold ‘em now and then in Italy but this takes care of chasing it down…we often just make-do with Bicisport’s excellent Guida al Giro along with their wrap-up issue a few weeks after the race is over. We DO miss the Italian TV commentators though, especially as they have guys on a moto in the peloton — so know much more than Heckyl and Jeckyl or Schwanger and Gogulski do during the broadcasts.

grolby May 12, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Larry T.: “Italians are very much this way, one of our friends, when I asked why he didn’t seatbelt his kids in the car, replied — FATE.”

That pretty much kills your entire argument right there. Talking about “fate” this way is an abdication of responsibility for the consequences of poor decisions – such as not seatbelting your children in the car. That’s not anything except irresponsible, even despicable. It’s not a fascinating cultural difference, it’s simply morally reprehensible.

The thing is, you could make an argument along these lines that might convince me – after all, there are limits to how safe you can make an inherently unsafe activity such as bicycle or motorcycle racing. That’s why we wear helmets, ride equipment that we’ve checked out for safety and try to impose some limits on the kinds of courses that we ride. At that point, we can perhaps accept that, now we’ve done everything we can, there are still things that can go wrong. That’s a more responsible approach to undertaking risky activities.

I’m an amateur bike racer myself; what we do isn’t anywhere close to the craziness of what they ride in races like the Giro, but then, that’s good because we are not pros. So we do what we can, wear helmets, make sure everything is tight and straight and strong and mark dangerous spots on the road. And I avoid following bad wheels, or making moves that, while they might be safe in a more advanced field, put me in danger among the riders I’m actually racing with.

And I’m a bit of a speed freak, too – there is little that I love more than screaming down a massive hill at 40-50 mph, charging through sweeping bends and around hairpins. But I don’t want to fall off at those speeds. So I don’t push it on descents that I don’t know. I still go that fast, sure, but I try to keep some extra grip and road in reserve, in case something happens that I don’t expect. I make sure my bike is in good shape and my brakes work. And I wear my helmet and gloves, for whatever good they do.

None of this stuff is a guarantee, but it is about reducing the risk of things going wrong, and if they DO go wrong, enhancing my chances of coming out the other side still in one piece. I don’t think the people I ride with would say that I ride with any fear. I’m more confident on the descents than a lot of people I know. But it’s not because I’ve accepted that “when my time comes,” I cannot do anything about it. I do everything I can to maximize my chances of living to a ripe old age.

No doubt many of the pros are making these kinds of calculations themselves. After all, you are only a pro for so long, and I don’t think any of them want to end up dead or disfigured because of their career choice. They will need to help provide for their families for at least another thirty years after they retire, in most cases. The kinds of courses they are given to ride are definitely part of this calculation, and unlike recreational cyclists and amateur racers, they don’t have any control over this except by protesting. Where to draw the line is a difficult question to answer, and so we have this continual back-and-forth between organizers and racers, who have somewhat conflicting goals. The organizer wants to maximize the spectacle, the pro wants to minimize risk. It’s a discussion that we need to keep having, and I don’t think invoking “FATE” is constructive.

Larry T. May 12, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Grolby, I guess you just don’t understand Italians. After 20+ years of going over there, I think I understand them, if just a bit. The same FATE argument covers the millions who live near Vesuvius or Etna. I don’ t think they spend too much time worrying about eruptions. I was simply trying to say that one can not control everything as FATE has the final say. Each individual can determine what is “safe” or what is worth some calculated risks. It’s like those who refuse to fly because they fear airline mishaps, but ignore the fact that a lot more folks get killed in car wrecks on the way to/from the airports than ever die in plane crashes. My response is “don’t worry, when your number’s up – your number’s up!” and “most people die in bed, does that make sleeping in them risky?”

grolby May 13, 2011 at 5:44 am

I daresay I don’t, but that’s really not the point. You invoke some odds – you are more likely to be killed or injured in a car wreck than a plane crash, and probably more likely to die in that plane crash than to be buried by Vesuvius or Etna – even if you live nearby. But there are circumstances where small actions that impose zero cost can drastically improve the odds. Such as buckling up your kids when you go for a drive (and not doing it is, again, not an interesting cultural quirk that I “don’t understand,” it’s morally wrong, full stop – children have in fact been thrown from vehicles and killed when they could have escaped injury by being restrained). That’s a damn sight different from living near a volcano, and not the same thing. Other examples abound – do you ride your bike if the wheel is loose? If the brake pads are worn to nothing? Do you fix that squeaky wheel bearing? Taking care of these issues is not worrying, it is simple prudence. Yes, people die in cars in perfect mechanical condition, with loads of traction control and airbags and seatbelts, while obeying the speed limit. There is no doubt about that at all, and I do not waste time worrying about it when I get into my car.

The mumbo-jumbo nonsense about “fate” obscures the point. There is an enormous difference between accepting that some activities come with a certain level of risk (which is exactly the point that I am making, here) and saying “when your number is up, it’s up!” and therefore not taking the simple actions that materially reduce the probability of your number coming up during the activity in question. It doesn’t hurt me to buckle my seatbelt when I get in the car, but it helps me out in most circumstances if I do actually crash – so I buckle it. It doesn’t help me move up in the field if I dive to the inside of corners in a Cat 4 criterium in the USA, but it does increase the chance of someone crashing me – so I don’t. Pretty simple, really.

Larry T. May 13, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Grolby, I’m afraid I’ve somehow so enraged you that you no longer even read what I post, you just attack it. I never told Beth to “just get on your bike and take off down the hill, don’t worry about whether the brakes work or bother to wear your helmet, just let FATE take care of you.” as you imply I wore protective gear during my moto career and wear it while cycling. My point was no matter how many precautions one takes, I believe when your time comes, you’re simply done, the protective stuff or avoidance of any risk makes no difference. I’m sorry you’ve become so worked up about my Italian friend’s explanation of why he didn’t bother to use the seatbelts in his car — I was not endorsing the practice, just using it as an extreme example of the idea that no matter what one does, FATE holds the cards. Everyone must make their own decisions where they stand on the risk vs reward issue of life and I thought sharing my ideas might help Beth overcome her fears. You sir, obviously don’t need any help, so please accept my apologies for offending you.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: