What next for the Giro d’Italia?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Giro, never again.

So says Alberto Contador. You can probably hear the prosecco corks popping in the Nibali household. Despite winning the Italian tour this year, the Spaniard says he’s never going back to the race. But “never say never” is valuable advice for those making statements in public and we’ll see what the future brings.

It’s the future of the race that is due to change with the race organiser Angelo Zomegnan getting ejected from the role following behind-the-scenes issues with cancelled stages and more, although Zomegnan is staying on to advise. Michele Acquarone is the new boss. The 2011 race was something many riders don’t want to repeat. Stage 15 of this year’s race featured more vertical metres than Switzerland’s week-long Tour of Romandie. Several riders admitted to being scared of the race.

I’ve worried about the phenomenon of “stage race inflation” before, the way each year’s race has to be bigger and better than the previous edition. But this just leads to stages that are so long as to force riders on the defensive… avoid the race altogether. Certainly non-Italian riders with objectives beyond the Giro don’t want the fatigue. Many sprinters bail out after two weeks too.

The Giro d’Italia is one of my favourite races, one of several highlights of the sporting calendar. But too many marathon stages are scaring the best riders away. If the race wants to avoid becoming an Italo-Italian contest then it needs to ensure many teams and riders are only too happy to take part instead of scaring them away. There are plenty of good Italian riders and in many ways the race just needs some competitive riders to create some great racing and all the stories that go with this. Are 250km mountain stages necessary to achieve this?

One lesson from the Tour de France is that short stages work very well. Stage 19′s 109.5 “sprint” over the Galibier was more intense than any eight hour slog, when riders have fresh legs they can show feisty riding. After eight hours everyone becomes diesel, their legs blunted by the mileage. For sure we get a spectacle but at what price? It’s a personal view but I don’t think the final week of a grand tour should have stages longer than 200km. Maybe the round figure is arbitrary, feel free to disagree.

The route for the 2012 Giro d’Italia will be presented in October. The start is known already, it will begin… in Denmark.

  • A footnote to say if riders think twice about the race, bloggers probably don’t. One thing the Giro excels in is its online presence. Video streaming, twitter accounts and a user-friendly website, it is years ahead of letour.fr.
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{ 44 comments }

Ankush July 27, 2011 at 9:22 am

This year’s Giro was torturous and I was pitying the riders while watching the race. As you very well said that the stage racing should be controlled and it could also serve as a deterrent to any possible motivation for doping.

Anonymous July 27, 2011 at 10:02 am

I heard audience share was good for the start week. When big mountain stages came the audience was small because nobody need 8 hours to know the winner is Contador.

TomC July 27, 2011 at 10:47 am

I have to say the Tour was far more interesting than this years Giro. That was probably partly due to there being a less dominant GC contender at the Tour but i do feel that the Giro just blunted a lot of the excitement of the third week with fatigue.

I think this years tour had a far more intelligent parcours than the giro, it resolutely did not take part in stage inflation.

Granny Gear July 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

INRNG, can you please give me the Giro’s official website? I’ve been unable to track it down.

@Ash_Stapleton July 27, 2011 at 11:09 am

I seem to remember a few passages in the Laurent Fignon autobiography where he complained that in the modern era stages not only in the grand tours but some of the classics were now so short that they failed to be selective enough. Is there any truth in this? Will we see a bigger number of riders make more of a fight for the GC title if we loose the selectiveness Voeckler, Thor, Thomas etc….?

Bundle July 27, 2011 at 11:23 am

Let me cordially disagree with your call for diminishing mileage, especially on the mountains. It is indeed marathons that make riders flag in the last week, when reserves are tapped to the very bottom of the barrel. No problem with a shorter stage here and there, but just compare the 1987 Tdf to the 2009 edition and see. This Giro’s parcours was good, although it seemed repetitive because one guy was much better than the rest from the beginning. and because there was too little TT for so much mountain. To save the TT for the end of the race, just for the sake of keeping narrow distances in the GC, results in the embarrassingly boring, risk-controlling race we saw in the short-ish stages of the Pyrenées this year. My recipe: make the climbers lose a lot of minutes in the TT, and give them plenty of kilometers of climbing to get those minutes back.

Rooie July 27, 2011 at 11:31 am

I am a great fan of the Giro, Classics and the Tour.

For Classics, a 225k race or longer is a must. It’s the distance that sets the flandriens apart from the rouleurs and sprinters.

For Grand Tours, shorter stages, especially in the mountains, can be a welcome initiative. But not solely and not if it results in a quick ride up to just a mountain finish. Then the true climbers can be outdone by powerriders like Hushovd or Gilbert and the importance of having just a good punch grows. A problem is also that with a short stage descending becomes more important, while the peloton is larger due to the short stage. That increases the chance of accidents downhill.

The Giro, I think, would benefit form shortening to two weeks or 16 days. It’s not the distance of the stages alone that makes the Giro so heavy, but also the riding for three consecutive weeks.

@GrannyGear
You should go to http://www.gazzetta.it/Speciali/Giroditalia/2011/en/

Rider Council July 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm

it’s odd, but people seemed less bored with Armstrong dominating 7 straight tours and they did with Contador’s impressive ride in the 2011 Giro. The Giro is always different and refreshing, there were several exciting days of racing this year. Regardless of whether a rider dominates or not, it’s essential that we have now and then a great champion who shows what he is made off. If you ask me Le Tour have studied il Giro’s route design for the past few years to help save the race from suffocating from it’s cookie cutter profile. The only noticeable change for years was what direction they decided to go, clockwise or counter clockwise. Having said that, it’s the riders that make the race exciting but a well thought out itinerary and race route is as essential as the presence of a grande campione. The Crostis got blow out of proportion this year, it became very political and a good man lost his job.

Stefan July 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

As everywhere, the secret’s in the mix. Combine any of the following: flat, uphill, downhill, mountain pass, little hills, short, long, big roads, little roads, gravel, straight, curvy, circuits, ITT, TTT, etc. You could even include an oval or racing circuit!

Nick July 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Like you’ve said before, the riders make the race. We saw exactly this year with the Tour, which was certainly more riveting than the Giro.

I think they need to, ironically, take a leaf out of the Tour’s book and look to scale it back just a little. ’09 and ’10 were epic Giro’s, take the good points from those and you’ll be on a winner.

Doug July 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I completely agree with the idea to shorten stages a bit. If I want to see riders ground into powder, I can always check out the Race Across America. I want to see riders RACE – attack, counter-attack, be aggressive. I agree that Stage 19 of the TdF over the Galibier was great racing – and there’s no danger of a non-true climber (e.g. Hushovd/Gilbert) getting involved there.

Robert July 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm

There should be a good mix of short and long stages and continually look to innovate – although don’t try more than one innovation in each edition. For instance why not have an opening stage as a town centre crit with time bonuses for top 10 or a downhill time trial. Look for different ways to split the field so that on the more commonplace stages riders have to come up with new ways of either opening or bringing back a time difference. Just my 2p worth.

Allgearsblazing July 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I tend to agree with Stefan; a good mix of stages will create a fascinating GT. Also, that applies on a larger scale too, not all GTs can be like this years Giro, but once in a while it’s nice because its a break from the norm. The Giro had an Epic parcours, but this years tour had some Epic racing. It is the riders that make the race though, agreed.

Tim July 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I would go for the kind of mix we have just seen in the Tour, which had enough big summit finishes (four), mixed in with medium mountain stages, uphill finishes and descents which test the riders in different ways and provide opportunities for enterprising riders to get 30 seconds at a time. We see different riders come to the fore and tactics which aren’t set in stone. The problem with the Giro was that it was all about the best climber – Contador – and even the ITT was just a scaled-down version of the bigger mountain stages.

A simplistic suggestion: 3 days each in the Dolomites and Alps – a long stage with a summit finish, followed by a descenders’ stage, followed by a short stage with a summit finish. And have the ITT in between the two ranges, not at the very end. And a mix of flat, medium mountain and other challenging stages in between, but not so many as to scare off the sprinters and turn the points competition into a just another variation on the KoM, which is what happened at this year.

Chris July 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I don’t know if a hard and fast rule of “No more than X km shall be raced each day in the final week of a Grand Tour” is workable, but I agree with some of the other commenters that a *variety* of stages is what helps. Instead of 3 stages of 150km, why not (as Tim suggests) 190km to a summit finish, then 160km to a descent finish, then 100km to another summit finish. I also really enjoyed the variety during the opening week where some flat stages ended in a punchy little climb rather than all of them being a drag race to the line. That – along with the rule changes – certainly kept the maillot vert race more interesting for more of the Tour.

Dave July 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Worth pointing out in the 2009 Giro they had a very short stage (80k from memory) that finished at the blockhaus climb and a short inner city crit in Milan that was neutralised by Armstrong (well mainly anyway). So they have been innovating in this area too.

Jennifer July 27, 2011 at 5:16 pm

As many folks here point out, it’s the racers that make the race – with a good parcours to help. But that’s been the problem to date and what I worried about after Contador said never again. If he’s shown that it’s impossible to race both Giro and TdF to win – at least in their current forms, then I wondered who was ever going to take their A team and their A game to the Giro in the future – not if they want to try and win le Tour. Though now I think I read something in the last few days that says Contador might try Giro/Vuelta in the future? I do feel like Zomegnan got caught in some political backfire because of this year’s edition, which is unfortunate as he has done so much good for the Giro and GT racing in general. It will be interesting to see how the new management structure works and what kind of race they present.

Larry T. July 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm

First, let’s not assume the 2011 Giro route will be defining future editions as the 150th Anniversary route was cooked up just for that purpose. How many whiners were there about the Giro before this year? Most seemed to applaud Zomegnan and Co. until this year but why should the riders have such a big say anyway? These are the same folks who opposed dope testing and wearing helmets, don’t forget. The sprinters will want more flat stages, the climbers will want more mountain-top finishes, etc. It’s impossible to satisfy everyone. No doubt Contador’s performance let most of the air out of the Giro balloon early-on, but other than inviting him, how can this be blamed on Zomegnan? The Giro-Tour double has always been a rarity and I certainly do not want to see La Corsa Rosa become a mere training race for LeTour. There are already plenty of those (Tour de Suisse, Tour of CA, etc.) so we don’t need to destroy what many (including yours truly) think is the best race in the world to mollify those who care only about the Tour in July. The Giro can be an exciting race without any of the big Tour contenders showing up…in fact, it’s often better when they don’t….as this year’s version might suggest. I won’t lose any sleep over “Il Pistolero” threatening to never come back just as I cared not a whit about BigTex ever participating. The wimpy course Zomegnan and Co whipped up just for BigTex will remain one of the few blights on their record for me. I hope “The Toughest Race in the Most Beautiful Place” idea will live on….VIVA IL GIRO!

Aleko July 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm

How about you offer some evidence why the Giro is ‘too long’? I didn’t see more riders missing the cut, I did not see lower average speeds towards the end. In fact it was in the Tour where 80+ missed the cut on both Alpine stages.

The hard course => defensive riding ‘theory’ does not hold water either. Messrs Anton, Nieve and Kirienka surely did not win stages in the second part of the race by simply following wheels.

Granted the Tour this year was more exciting but that has nothing to do with the course. In the Giro Contador spent himself and just blew away the field so at the Tour several others actually had legitimate chances.

If you want to keep the status quo (near monopoly of the Tour), then yeah, lets whine about this and that without using empirical evidence. Some of you guys start to eerily resemble corporate soundboards like Sherwen and Liggett that have a need to dumb down cycling for the average English-speaking ‘fan’.

David July 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm

The stages that should be shorter are the flat ones. Do we really need to see the peloton hold a gap with the breakaway of the day for 200km, reel them in and have the inevitable sprint, when exactly the same would have happened if the stage was 100km? If the pointless flat stages, which serve no GC purpose other than to rule GC guys out due to crashes were cut short it would also potentially make for more attacking riding in the mountains.

Ken July 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I think the 2011 Tour had a wonderful mix of stages that tested a complete variety of riding skills, which Evans had and the Schlecks didn’t. If the race seemed cautious the second week, well, that was the tactics dictated by the mixture of riders.

The expanded Tour of California is now in direct competition with the Giro. I wonder if we now will see more teams opt for the West Coast instead of Italy?

rich July 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I would rather watch racing for 3 hours instead of watching scenery for 3 hours before they start racing. The day they were on their bikes for 8.5 hours in the middle of a 3 week stage race was ridiculous. Having really hard grand tours means we can’t see our favorite racers contend in all of them. As it us now they have to decide between one or the other and the teams can’t get their return on their investment as their premier guy can only contend for one.

Aleko July 27, 2011 at 6:25 pm

The double standards applied to the Tour vs the Giro run deep.

Zomegnan handled the tragic but accidental death of Wouter Weylandt with as much class as anybody. As a payback the teams and UCI collaborated the NIGHT BEFORE to ruin the stage that included the awe inspiring Crostis climb that surely cost a lot of money and effort to arrange. In the end Zomegnan, loses his job.

On the other hand at the Tour, TV car runs over two riders in a totally innocuous preventable situation. Where is outcry against the race director that oversees the caravan? Why is he, the driver and TV France let off the hook just because miraculously there were no fatal injuries? In the end, Prudhomme is a hero, a visionary that invented the short stage (Blockhaus 2010 anyone?) and model to be followed.

In the end its business and nobody owes nothing to anybody, but to see that attitude from fans and third party writers still makes me sick.

Aleko July 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm

@ David
+1

@Ken
You are deluded.

In 3 years it’s very likely the ToC will not even exist. The real competition (Tour of Colorado) has not even started and LA is still not indicted so negative publicity is still manageable, Amgen is running huge losses, they still had to cancel stages because of the weather this year … the list keeps going and going.

If that does not make you stop for a sec and put your thinking cap, the organizer and biggest promoter, Mr Andrew Messick himself already jumped ship, resigned and is now organizing triathlons or something.

ColoradoGoat July 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm

As I have said before, The Tour of Cali should work with the Tour of Utah and Tour of Colorado (sorry – calling it that no mater what umpteenth iteration of the race name they have devised) and create an August 3-week mini grand Tour here, but with each race standing on its own, but allowing Teams to come to the States, when the weather in the mountains is warm, and the access the teams will have with US companies and public will make the trip over here worth it.

As for the Giro – the only reason it is getting criticized was because one rider, Contator was hands down dominant from the first attack up Etna. The race was a foregone conclusion then, and it made the rest of the stages nothing more than a waiting game until the end to crown Contador the champion. Wanna know why last year’s Giro was so exciting….because it was contested right up until the Zoncolon, when Basso finally dumped Evans for good up that climb.

ColoradoGoat July 27, 2011 at 6:59 pm

In defense of making the mountain stages shorter….ever notice, that except for Andy’s attack late in the Tour from 60km out, no matter how many climbs you put into a stage, in general, nothing really happens until the last climb anyways.

Now – there is something to be said for creating a course long enough that it tests the endurance of the riders before the final climb, rewarding those who best retained their strength into the final climb.

I was thinking last night, I wish the Vuelta would maybe move more towards defining itself through stages built more like classics. Long, with punchy little climbs, allowing for guys like Gilbert and Cancellara a chance to contest a 3-week stage race. Still include a few key climbs, but also allow for time gaps in the GC to be achieved on flatter stages. I think the TdF did this quite well in week one.

jza July 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm

This year’s Tour was great and all….but the 2010 Giro is still far and away the best GT I’ve ever watched.

GTs need more classics style hilly/windy stages. Give the all-rounders a chance, at least through the first 2 weeks.

ColoradoGoat July 27, 2011 at 7:24 pm

@jza – I completely am with you. From my limited viewing of the three GT’s, 2010 Giro, 2006 TdF (ignoring the obvious issues with post-race Landis) and then 2011 TdF.

The hill climb time trial in 2010 at the Giro alone made that race a unique viewing experience.

The Inner Ring July 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Some great comments here. To expand, I think some shorter stages could be good, for example one long stage followed by a short one, rather than having short stages every day. The Giro is a great race but it would be even better if it could attract the best riders in the world. One aspect that’s less visible but equally deterring is the transfers.

What’s been great under the Zomegnan era was the innovation, the use of the strade bianche (and the creation of the one day race in March) and the Tour is looking to imitate this with possibly some off road riding in 2012.

Another idea would be smaller teams, perhaps seven riders.

Bundle July 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Wow, this is a debate.
La Vuelta has always tended to have less mileage and less mountain, that didn’t seem to affect the “quality” of the race (sometimes it was amazing, sometimes it was boring), something which is, indeed, up to the riders and the DS, and depends especially on how the GC gets shaped. Those saying that only the last climb matters nowadays, don’t blame on the early cols, blame it on the riders’ lack of audacity, and on their electronic equipment. If Andy hasn’t won this year’s Tour, it’s simply because of not attacking from far often enough (because we’ve seen it works: this boy should really go the Giro, and not for partying). If Contador wasn’t at his best in the Tour only because of the massive Giro (which I don’t buy anyway), let’s not blame the Giro, let’s criticize those who didn’t go there, those who race 3-4 weeks in the year. The Vuelta and the Giro will never accept to be reduced from 3 weeks, for 3 reasons: tradition, prestige, and the publicity time that would be lost. This year’s Tour has been OK, it just lacked 50-60 km. more of flat ITT. And the Giro was good, especially those days the riders seemed “ground to powder”; I think Zomegnan’s motto was something like: “guys, if you don’t attack upwards, I’ll make you feel dragged downwards”: if riders insist on attacking so little and so late, the mountain stages will have to become more monstrous in order to get the same show and gaps measured in minutes and tens of minutes. You usually don’t make more than a 2-min gap on the last climb. But it’s important to minimize the flat in the valleys between your 5 or 6 cols, so that teamwork can’t be used to neutralize those crazy guys attacking with 200 km. to go. Just a tip: watch the Sestrières stage in the 1992 Tour, because that is what we should be looking for.
By the way, the Giro was dramatically softened between 1979 and 1986, in order to favour local favourites Moser and Saronni: it subsequently lost its prestige and “number 2″ standing to the Vuelta, and was forced to react, becoming mountainous again afterwards.
My main point: road cycling, and especially Grand Tours (“Grand!”) are about extreme resistance and long-distance endurance. That’s what they always have been, and that’s their glory and spectacularity. Why change the concept now after more than a century?

Higgins July 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Call me naive, but the bigger concern for me in all of this is why the governing bodies of the sport and the sponsors involved would want two major tours in the year being so tough that the best riders have to choose between them, instead of competing for both. This is equivalent to Football Clubs having to choose between domestic league success OR Champions League success.
From a spectator point of view, I want to see the best riders in all the major events and not only in the ones they want to target. I realise that some riders will have certain events they favour, but to think that Cadel only won because Bertie was too tired after spending May on Etna devalues his efforts and the whole tour.
Riders in the past used to compete over the whole year which meant that they all suffered the same fatigue, and maybe organisers had to be more moderate in their demands. Maybe riders have brought harder races on themselves by being too selective about what they ride..

On the base subject of marathon stages, how many cycling fans really watch unbroken coverage of entire stages from start to finish ? More often its only the last 10km of climbing or desperate breakaways or sprints that actually grab the imagination. Shaving 30km of most stages would make not the slightest difference to the entertainment value, other than increasing the energy left for the exciting bits.

matt July 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm

“The Giro, never again.” -Contador

Music to the ears of RCS?

C Grade Cyclist July 28, 2011 at 1:56 am

I’m a propnent of the “shorter Giro stages” approach. Not because I think shorter = more exciting racing, but because I think a longer. more draining Giro will mean the serious Tour de France contenders simply will not go to the Giro.

My idea is that if teh Giro is made up of shorter, more punchy stages – then the big TdF overall contenders won’t feel they have to skip teh Giro to be in peak shape for the Tour. Which means more ‘big names’ will be at the Giro to win, making it a better race.

Just for the record – I think the 2010 Giro & the 2011 TdF were two of the best grand tours I’ve ever watched in my 10-years as a cycling fan… :)

rich July 28, 2011 at 2:24 am

The comments on the articles on this blog are up to a higher standard than most other sites.

ColoradoGoat July 28, 2011 at 2:42 am

Well – I responded via e-mail, but it appears it did not make it.

In response to C Grade, my fear would be a diminished Giro, where the top riders would potentially hold back in certain situations, for fear of going off track in their preparation for the Tour. You saw it at the Tour of California. Andy got destroyed by Lepheimer, in part because he was more worried about sticking to getting the proper form for the Tour, versus competing in the race.

I would rather the Giro become the Tour where the young upstarts (Nibili, Sagan, Rolland etc…) can prove themselves for the Tour (which still to this days rubs me the wrong way…The Giro is a better race, period). Let the Vuelta continue its mantle of the race of redemption for those who failed to race well in the Tour. But do not lessen the importance or prestige of the Giro or Vuelta by making it easier for the top dogs will be a sure fire way to ruin those races.

Phil Malcolm July 28, 2011 at 7:30 am

Maybe its naive on my part, but why do we need to view the Giro through the prism of the Tour? The Italians certainly dont

That a Grand Tour is prepared to push the envelope of what constitutes a 3 week race is surely. good thing. The shape of the Tour is always going to be dictated by the shape of France and the. traditional placing of the Alps and Pyrenees. The Giro has always been able to shake up the format and it is this, and the associated difficulties in preparing for that year on year that mwans the field is, to the eyes of the Tour centric, less stellar. However, look at winners from theady 20 years alone and tell me that Simoni, Basso, Pantani etc aren’t worthy if any race.

The idea that the Giro needs to cut its length or become a race for future Tour winners is bizarre to me and probably imprisonable in Italy. It’s a strange view if cycling that seems to have grown up through the 90s and 00s that only the Tour has value in its own right and on its own terms.

Bundle July 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

One more thing, about the supposed difficiculty of racing well in several GT in the same year:
1) Contador did not only do the Giro (which he rode in a wonderful, but uneconomic way), and seriously hurt his knee in the Tour: he has been riding to win (and winning) since the beginning of the season (Algarve, Murcia, Castilla-León, Volta), “like he was going to day the next day”. So he can’t blame the Italian race, that welcomend him twice when he was in problems, and to which he owes a big chunk of his glory, alone.
2) Sastre and Menchov, in recent years have been consistently making the top-5 in two GT a year. A diminished ageing Sastre did “THE 3 GT” last year, and made the Top-20 in all of them. At the beginning of the season, Bjarne Rijs was even mentioning that Contador would go on to win the 3 GT in 2011, which Alberto never denied. Of course it is possible: it is the next challenge, and I think Contador, Andy, and Evans should all try it next year. Their bodies can take it, albeit to a variable degree, and we would all love to see this 3-episode challenge.

The Inner Ring July 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

More good comments. I case I expressed things wrongly, note I’m not saying the Giro needs to become a three week warm-up for the Tour. By all means have the big stages… but balance them by some small ones.

Many riders did the Giro-Tour double this year and were competitive in the Tour de France. It’d just be a shame if many big names refused to ride. Because that only makes the Tour even bigger; the Giro needs some more international interest at times.

Larry T. July 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm

It’s all well and good to say, “the flat stages need to be shorter” etc. but then you reduce the challenge for the sprinters. Don’t forget the fatigue of just getting to the last few kms IS part of the challenge for these guys, why should THEY get an easier time of it? It’s not just who is the fastest over the final 200 meters, but who is fit enough and smart enough and is supported by the best team to arrive there in the best condition for the sprint finish. And if you magically make the stages you don’t like shorter, how the hell do you make it around Italy (after all it IS the Giro d’ ITALIA) without even more lengthy transfers? More than anything it seems the riders complain about the hours spent in the bus after the stages getting to the night’s lodging. Zomegnan did a great job with La Corsa Rosa. It’s a shame his personality (in my opinion) got in the way of his job…more diplomacy might have saved him but I hope the new guys keep the legacy alive. The Giro may never be the biggest race and I don’t believe Italians care so much about that, but they’d like to be the best race like they were in 2010. They (and we) owe Zomegnan and Co for that, along with the racers who made it so exciting to watch. Viva il Giro!

Ross July 29, 2011 at 3:05 am

You can blame Lance Armstrong for making the Tour the focus of the World’s best Grand Tour riders these days. He created the model of completely focussing on the Tour, and all other races were merely preparation for the Tour. Prior to him, Grand Tour riders targeted at least 2 of the 3 Grand Tours (e.g. Hinault, Lemond, Roche, Indurain, Pantani) and a few actually won the double in the same year. So it can be done. I’m sure Cadel Evans, or Andy Schleck, or Contador are all capable of winning the Giro – Tour double. The attitude of pro cycling teams needs to change to what it was 15 – 20 years ago, otherwise one team will not risk entering it’s top GC rider in 2 consecutive Grand Tours while the other teams focus solely on the Tour.

C Grade Cyclist July 29, 2011 at 3:21 am

I can’t see anything wrong with putting a 200km ‘cap’ on the length of Grand Tour stages. I think part of the reason it was particularly difficult to do a Giro-Tour double this year is that the Giro was just too brutal – both in stage length and climbing difficulty.

I, too, would like to see the Giro (& the Vuelta!) increase in prestige even further so that they begin to genuinely rival the Tour. That’s why I think, whilst the Giro shouldn’t be ‘easy’ – it shouldn’t be ‘brutal’ (at least, not every year). You can have a ‘beautiful Giro’ with plenty of ‘big stages’ – but they don’t have to be 200+ km monsters, day-after-day.

I do believe part of the reason this year’s Tour was so great, was that the stages were relatively short compared to past years. The number of stages under 200km meant that the GC riders could ‘back up’ more easily, meaning more attacking riding was required to take yellow…

Bundle July 29, 2011 at 5:08 am

As for this year’s Giro being monstrous, I couldn’t agree. In Stephen Roche’s “annus mirabilis” (1987 Giro, Tour and Worlds), the Giro was spectacular and 500 km longer than this year and had some tremendous mountain marathons, like the 252km. long stage to Pila, that Robert Millar won the on last Saturday. It also had 90km. ITT. That year’s Tour (which was superb) was also much bigger than this year’s, and the 3 riders on the podium got there with a GT in their legs (which reinforces Ross’ point).
Maybe Zomegnan’s mistake has been to over-advertise the toughness of this year’s Giro.

cjm July 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I enjoyed watching the Tour this year and unfortunately the next race I see will most likely be the 2012 Tour. Not sure what the answer is but the sport will be much better if there are several great races during the year with all the top riders. Much like Golf or Tennis where fans watch the Majors or Slams.

Someone has to review the schedule and make some important decisions. Move the tour back a week and the Giro up a week. Shorten all races to 2 weeks. If not, the sponsors will come and go and we’ll have one event to watch each year.

Joseph Galitzin August 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm

The Giro needs to back to it’s roots, the new version does not work. The new version was step up as stand alone version. It needs to be a lead in for the Tour. It’s always been this way. AZ tried to shake this up, and now the Giro more than ever is an all Italian race.

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