Thoughts on the Giro

Friday, 22 June 2012

Giro wallpaper

The organiser of the Giro d’Italia Michele Acquarone has a blog on cyclingnews.com and his latest piece opens the floor to thoughts on the 2012 edition, the route and the racing. It’s good PR, opening up to the fans and seeking ideas. We’ll see what the response is and in time whether any thoughts are taken aboard by the “Pink Admiral”*

I don’t know if he’s a reader but Acquarone raises some interesting points about the Giro and the nature of racing. To summarise the last 100 years of cycle sport in a sentence we’ve seen races shorten in distance, the epic tests of 400km a day with dawn starts and gravel roads are gone and today pro cycling remains a gruelling test of endurance but it is increasingly defined by television.

1. The route
I enjoyed the route, it was varied and allowed the overall classification to slowly take shape. Personally I don’t like the starts in foreign countries, or rather the very long transfers but understand the business reasons.

2. The climbs

According to our own Mauro Vegni, long stages with 4 or 5 passes are the very soul of the Giro and of cycling itself because they give champions the chance to produce great exploits through memorable long breaks. Instead, for Millar, a more modern cycling should aim for shorter stages. 100 kilometres: up, down, up again. Fewer tactics and more emotion from the big riders, who give us spettacolo from the beginning to the end of the stage.

I’ve written on here before that stages longer than 200km in the third week can be excessively long. The main riders are so tired and so scared of losing the race that they don’t launch long range attacks until the final climb. Hours of television but everyone is sitting still, whether in the saddle or at home in the armchair. Maybe a mix can be tried, an epic “Queen Stage” but some shorter stages between 120-180km. Even the conservative Tour de France is experimenting with this.

3. Strade bianche
I think everyone likes this but perhaps not every year? It is fine to use a section or two but recreating the Eroica like in the Giro did in 2011 could be something to save for special years. It is so good because it is special.

4. Time bonuses
I prefer pure racing but these do help to liven up the racing. I like to see the pink jersey change shoulders during the race and these time bonuses can help.

I’ll take the opportunity here to raise a provocative point – during the final debriefing on the Giro, our commercial director Lorenzo Giorgetti proposed allowing teams a pair of “jokers” to play during the race. Such a joker would be played by the team before the start of a stage and would double the time bonuses on offer to them in that particular stage. This decision would oblige teams to “reveal” their own race strategy before the start and would create more interest.

Why not? But perhaps this could be tried in Tirenno-Adriatico first? Also when extra rules are added it can confuse ordinary viewers and leave the TV commentary crew having to explain the rule every day.

5. Points classification
Is this for sprinters or all-rounders? Mark Cavendish came so close this year and only lost out because Andrea Guardini pipped him in one sprint. I’m not sure we need to rewrite the rules but organisers can always add more weight to the sprint finishes to ensure the pink jersey isn’t also wearing the red jersey.

6. The sprints

On some occasions, we were criticised for having designed finales that were too technical for sprint finishes. Stefano Allocchio (who within our team represents the point of view of the rider) guarantees that the finishes of the 2012 Giro were designed to respect the security of the athletes

We had crashes in Denmark on the wide flat roads. Sprints are always dangerous and if riders read the roadbook before the stage and possibly do some extra homework then they won’t be caught out by the roads, even if they will always find an elbow, shoulder or more in the way. For example there was nothing inherently dangerous with the bend in Montecatini Terme that saw Sacha Modolo go down, taking others with him (2m20s in the Youtube clip). That said there were one or two moments in the finale that were very “Giro” with narrow roads and tight turns.

Other thoughts
I’d almost caution against talking to too many fans. It is great to consider the passionate fans around the world but the core audience remains Italian TV viewers who are not necessarily the greatest followers of the sport. It’s something I’ve addressed before on the gap between fans and audience.

Another thought is the mix of riders. One criticism is that it’s often the Italian stage race championship with a very local field. This year’s results showed something else with Hesjedal and Rodriguez at the top but in order to widen the audience I suspect fans and audience alike want to see the big names take part, albeit with the local audience hoping an Italian can contend for the win. It’s all about balance, when Contador showed up in 2010 he was so far ahead of the others the race turned into a victory lap of Italy so if the race attracts big names it needs a good mix of them.

Access in an accessible sport

Also the Giro is making great advances with social media and the internet, especially the free video streaming which is a real bonus and pioneer move in the sport. By contrast I’ve been trying to get info on the Tour de France but the race website is bad and the French race seems to adopt a gallic shrug “take or leave it” approach. For one of the largest sporting events in the world it has a relatively small presence on the web. It’s their loss and even for cynical business reasons they could promote the race and its sponsors better. But the Giro is leading the way here. Now this might be a blog and I have a Twitter account but social media is still highly marginal compared to TV, radio and press. It’s just a great channel for more information and to work on the brand.

Conclusion
A great race, it is refreshing to see the organisers looking to make improvements. The Giro isn’t alone here but it seems unique to do this in public. In some aspects the Giro is playing catch-up and trying to find avenues that aren’t blocked by the mammoth that is the Tour de France.

If anything the Giro has a winning formula already: it occupies a prime spot of the calendar, exploits stunning scenery and is one of the most prestigious races going. But that’s looking backwards. Cycling is almost an old-fashioned sport these days, bolstered by the conservatism of the UCI which seems to ban first and then think, rather than enabling and promoting. But the actions of RCS and its Giro give us an interesting glimpse into the future of pro racing.

What do you think?

  • * apparently Acquarone served briefly in the Italian navy and so cyclingnews awarded him the title of “Pink Admiral”. In fact here’s his biography from RCS Sport:

“He has a degree in Business Economics from Milan’s Bocconi University, and joined RCS group in 1999 as Product Manager for the marketing department of La Gazzetta dello Sport. He was then given the responsibility of developing the promotional products business of La Gazzetta dello Sport that brought in from 15 million euros in 2003 to 65 million euros in 2007. Michele has been Chief Executive of RCS Sport Since 2008. I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.”

Pin It

{ 55 comments }

Brett June 22, 2012 at 10:57 am

@Inrng “Now this might be a blog and I have a Twitter account but social media is still highly marginal compared to TV, radio and press. It’s just a great channel for more information and to work on the brand.”

Sorry, I have to disagree. Social media as a way to promote is probably mis-understood/not leveraged by traditionalists, or by that maybe I mean baby-boomers/Gen-Xers. Take a contrast to the way two automotive giants are using it, GM and Ford. GM appears to be going back to the traditional media, whereas Ford appear to be trying to leverage the use of social media and buzz-creation through the more modern means – look what they did with the Fiesta Movement campaign. Unheard of before for them, but created a major stir.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the comment around how the TdF has a maybe take it or leave it approach; whereas the Giro is taking a more connected and engaged stance that also is prepared to use dialogue with the audience it needs to have to create interest/awareness and potentially revenue in the future.

Just my $0.02

The Inner Ring June 22, 2012 at 11:22 am

I think it helps yes, but this blogger with a twitter account just wanted to say social media is fragmented and marginal. If I ran the race I’d be exploiting all possible channels but wanted to express the idea that the race remains a TV/video event. But if they can enhance it then they should, yes.

Brett June 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

Totally agree :) As per you, I would be trying to leverage every opporunity. I still dispair that the total money for the TdF is a mere 17.5% of the prize money at Wimbledon this year…

I think it’s such a newer form of connectivity for many of the organisers, that they may struggle to see the value – in this I think Acquarone is a helping to push the boundary for cycling.

and by the way, you the blogger with a twitter account are the second thing I do everyday when I get into work… Keep it up, it’s great! I’d be lost without your thoughts on cycling most days.

Sam June 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I agree with Brett.

Yes, I watch the Giro and Tour on TV, but what makes me interested is the articles/blogs/twitter on the internet. I read blogs like this every day, this is the social media which gets me excited about it enough to watch it on TV.

It’s hard to think of the revenue streams directly from the social media such as this site, however, it is this which makes me watch it on TV and subscribe to the TV channel with it, which therefore generates money for the race. So I feel other media channels are vital.

Chromatic Dramatic June 25, 2012 at 3:01 am

Inner Ring. You’re exactly right in saying TV / video etc is where it is at. Ultimately TV (or media) are the ones that pay the bills, they are your #1 client, so you have to look after them. That also means doing everything else you can possible do to drive interest to those who pay you the big bucks.

Rooto June 22, 2012 at 11:04 am

I’m sure we’d all be very interested to read about RCS’ conclusions (if ever they were to be published) on the profitability of their free streaming idea. Whether they think the cost is worth it for the greater exposure, or even their ideas on developing / sponsoring it.
As fans we all loved it, but we’re not privy to their point of view. Does anyone have any sources?

Meanwhile, “Pink Admiral”?! It only works in Italian!

L_Islandais June 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I have a pink admiral, but it’s only for the missus

Tristan June 22, 2012 at 11:11 am

It has certainly been an interesting year for the world of professional cycling so far, and it seems that it’s jut getting started. With Andy out of the tour and Alberto banned two of the main protagonists of the high mountains will not be there to challenge the times set by time trial specialists Wiggo and Evans. Yes there are others; Gesink, Westra, Voeckler, etc. who have a blank page to make a real go for it but there is always something special about watching these titans of the sport battle it out for ultimate glory.

That said, this years edition of the Giro D’Italia really showed how great cycling can be. A deserved winner, and he was one of a few who could have taken the race. No real controversy, although Scarponi is now under investigation, and a great spectacle to watch over said free live streams. They really got it right this year, and although there is always something to improve upon and the business side of the organisation will never be truly satisfied, the fundamentally important aspect for fans was met and exceeded. The organisers of Le Tour could certainly learn something from the success of the Giro.

Chapeau Michele

Patrick June 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

One error, Contador won (and was then stripped of his title) in 2011 not 2010, Basso won in that year.

The Inner Ring June 22, 2012 at 11:38 am

Fixed, thanks.

jkeltgv June 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm

oh, and the “famous” strade bianche stage Evans won was in 2010 I think as he was in the worlds jersey.

Andy P June 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Possibly my favourite stage in a grand tour of all time! But agree, should be kept for special occasions.

Simon June 22, 2012 at 11:41 am

I wouldn’t say one result lost Cav the Maglia Rossa, the crash early on put him behind and if I recall correctly he sat up on the stage Ferrari won and ended up 4th – could have maybe picked up 3rd there?

As a fan of sprinters, it would be good to see the points system shaken up a little. Something in line with the TdF would be good, the significant extra points at the sprint intermediates add an interesting sub-plot to the middle of stages. There has to be some incentive for pure sprinters to stay on into the 2nd and 3rd weeks of the race, and weighting the points system into their favour can only help.

Really enjoyed this years Giro, and it’s nice to know the organisers value the fans opinions.

Ronan June 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

It’s great to see open dialogue and for the race to be seen to be open to the fans, even if they’re not really going to act upon the feedback.

The other crucial aspect not mentioned is the profit sharing agreement with teams. Giving the stakeholders an incentive to make a better race and bring the best riders will hopefully work out well. I think it could be worth another blog as it could possibly lead to the demise of the Tour of California (in its current time slot) if it proves a success.

Bundle June 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Good piece but, of course, I can’t agree with some of your points on the Giro. I also disagree with Acquarone with TV live broadcasting being the essence of contemporary pro cycling. It might be so financially, but the essence, the branding, what captures the attention and the memory of the public is the narrative. It’s still better to read the story of the stage in the newspaper the following day. Or the year after. Or 10 years after. It has been studied that Banesto reaps more benefits, still nowadays, from past sponsoring than Movistar does for its present sponsoring of the same team.

1) Route: I agree with your dislike of overseas starts. We also missed an early ITT (or mountain ITT).
2) The climbs: a) “Too long” or “too tired”. It is only when some favourites are more “tired” than the others that we see gaps opening. If they arrive together to the last climb, the stage just wasn’t long enough or tough enough. b) It’s the “crescendo” build-up of mountain stages, each one more demanding than the previous one, that blocks the race. It should be “decrescendo”: the gigantic “Queen Stage” should be on the 2nd week, and from then on every stage should look like it’s the last chance to do something, until they realise, the last weekend, that everyone is so exhausted, and at the same time so used to big changes in the GC, that even a 3rd rate climb can be decisive.
3) Sterrato: this year it was entertaining but had no GC consequence. There should be more of it, and more strategically placed (on more mountainous stages), so that the field really splits at least a couple of times during the Giro because of this.
4) Time bonuses: why not. But if there are more gaps in the GC due to time bonuses than real time differences, again, the race just wasn’t tough enough.
5) Points classification: I fail to see a reason to favour sprinters (unless you simply like sprinters so much that you think they should be given special protection and status).
6) The Giro sprints are always the best. Because they are so diverse. Some of them clean, others “dirty”, others twisted, others slightly uphill. The Giro’s first week beats the Tour’s (and the Vuelta’s) by a mile.

We miss Zomegnan.

Larry T. June 22, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I was going to throw in my 2 cents but Bundle here nicely sums up my thoughts in a better way than I could have written them.

Ben June 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more media commentary to the effect that in Ryder Hesjedal we have the first “believable” grand-tour winner in many years. Highlighting this fact would be a very encouraging antidote to all of the negative doping coverage we see in the media.

I’m not so sure how much RCS specifically has contributed to levelling the playing field, but it’s encouraging for our sport nevertheless.

ChrisO June 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Probably because Hesjedal isn’t ???

First, that is, not believable.

I’ve never heard any serious accusations against Evans.

Rooie June 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Agree with ChrisO

Anonymous June 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Evans clearly

Bundle June 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Evans worked with Ferrari. Hesjedal trains in Girona. Done.

Duncan June 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Chris O, can you give us more details on what you have heard about Hesjedal? I’ve never heard any serious accusations about him either…

Adam June 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm

or Sastre. or Nibali.

Dave June 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Have never heard that about Evans & Ferrari before. Do you have any links?

Adam June 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm

http://www.53×12.com/do/show?page=indepth.view&id=123
or try Wikipedia
Though it was way back in 2000, and there’s nothing said about actually working together.

Mountain goat June 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Evens never worked with Ferrari. Ferrari mentions him on his website only in a test ride that Evens did back when switching from a mountain biker to road bikes. He is about as clean as you can get in the peloton.

Ablindeye June 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Anything is possible in cycling (never say never) but afaik Evans’s performaces have remained consistent for years, it just so happened that that level was good enough to win last years Tour. That’s an encouraging sign though not definitive proof of anything.

LDR99 June 23, 2012 at 12:07 am

“He is about as clean as you can get in the peloton.”

I think he’s clean. You think he is clean. Hesjedal too. All of Garmin. BMC too. Even Hincapie. Through out his career? No reason to think otherwise. Thought the same about Tyler. And Zirbel. Different circumstances for each. Certain admitted dopers now crusading. Lily white, pure as the drifted snow guys getting caught dirty. Guys that can’t possibly be clean passing tests (lots of tests) with flying colors. Bobby Julich finished third in the Tour behind Pantani and Ullrich. Should he be awarded the win. We think he was clean. He must have been clean. Even though guys on both sides of him were dirty in a dirty era. But he is “our” guy. Must be clean.

Fact is they are professional endurance athletes in a difficult sport. I don’t know for certain that any of them are clean. Or dirty. Nobody does. Nobody can, except the athlete himself. We can only hope and willfully suspend our disbelief. And enjoy the spectacle.

Big Mikey June 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm

+1 He’s “our” guy, he is definitely clean.
They’re always clean……..until they’re caught.

Tricky Dicky June 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I have enjoyed the Giro both last year and this. The worldwide streaming is a master-stroke. The one disappointment this year was having to wait for “fireworks” until the very end of the mountain stages. I think you are right that the stage distances has something to do with that, perhaps having a “cleaner” peloton too? That stage where the riders just came over the line one by one and looked absolutely stuffed screamed out to me how these riders were probably no longer doping.

I think the real problem facing the Giro is that the TdF is now so big that the big riders feel they need to miss the Giro as not even Contador could handle them both. I recall some discussion between RCS and the teams about sharing revenue – if this is a meaningful amount then might teams be persuaded to “load” their squads for the Giro rather than the TdF?

Sam June 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I would imagine that the teams sponsors would prefer the team to do well in the Tour rather than the Giro, so the money would need to be big enough to attract the teams such that a poor perform in the Tour (and then maybe future weaker sponsors) would not matter financially.

Rob June 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I firmly think all stages should offer equal points and time bonuses (well except maybe for TT). Why should the finish of a mountain stage be worth less in time bonus and (sprint) points than a flat stage? That seems entirely arbitrary to me, I’d rather keep it pure.

Anonymous June 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Though you could argue sprinters are more likely to crash (or be impeded) in their finishes. Obviously, positioning yourself to minimise such risks is a key skill for sprinters, but it’s not always possible and something the climbers don’t have to deal with to the same extent.

Alex June 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm

5) Points Classification. I agree entirely. They need to decide what kind of rider is the worthy winner. In the Giro at least, it seems to favour the GC men. My opinion is that they don’t keep an eye on the jersey competition at all – it’s almost accidental. I don’t think this does the Jersey justice.
We’re in danger of seeing a similar thing with the Polka Dots in the TdF. The prestige seems to have gone out of it. Hopefully this year (with it’s long Time Trials and time-looses for pure climbers), will see some real competition for this jersey.

Bundle June 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Turning your idea around… Where else than in the Giro Points Classification do we see Cavendish competing directly against Purito Rodríguez?

Alex June 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm

That’s is an interesting angle. But was Purito really racing for it? Also, neither can do much about the other – they are at the mercy of the stage organisers in terms of number of flat versus mountain stages.

Bundle June 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Well, it is not supposed to be a jersey that is too explicitly “raced for”. It’s always been called the “maglia della regolarità”. It is an award to the rider who’s been the most regular in finishing stages in the top-15. You win it “en passant” simply by trying to be ahead. I like it the way it is/has always been: it favours fast guys with resistance and climbing abilities (Jalabert, Kelly, Van de Velde, etc…). The sprinters have the sprints themselves.
But, I agree, we should demand that top riders “race for” points and KOM jerseys, and contest everything there is to be contested.

Dave June 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Jokers?! Thank goodness that idea hasn’t seen light of day (or at least not yet!)

Now with apologies to those who never saw ‘It’s a Knockout’ on 1970′s TV in the UK, I can’t get Stuart Hall’s cheesy commentary voice out of my head “Now then, what’s this we see here? I see Katusha are playing their joker!!”

Not a good idea if you ask me!

Jay June 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Stuart Hall doing cycling commentary would be quite something!

David June 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Some interesting thoughts. Mine are as follows:

1. The route
OK, but nothing special. Personally I don’t see the point in long flat stages (rather than just the talk about long mountain stages). If flat stages were limited to something like 150km they would pretty much turn out the exact same way as those over 200km. Save the long stages for GC days.

2. The climbs
For me this is the hardest factor for a grand tour planner at the moment. How do you create a route where the GC guys don’t just wait until the last 5km. My pet hate is stages where the penultimate and final mountain are separated by 20 or 30km of valley. If you are going to have multiple mountains, at least try to limit the valley between the final two as it may increase the chance of people trying earlier. Other than that I have no problem with short or long climbs.

3. Strade bianche
It would hard to have a repeat of the epic stage won by Cadel Evans. However, I wouldn’t be against it being added to the Giro on alternate years initially, then taking it from there.

4. Time bonuses
Although I hate time bonuses they do give GC guys more incentive to ride fast. Having said that, rider one attacks in the final kilometer earning 20 seconds bonus for coming first on the stage. Rider two attacks 5km out and gets 20 seconds (no time bonus thanks to a breakaway). The latter deserves the seconds more. As a result I’d prefer no time bonuses on GC days.

5. Points classification
I’m happy with it as it is. Often the sprinters crash because they take too many risks. Cav could have easily walked away with the points jersey this year by quite a margin.

6. The sprints
The risks taken are up to the riders. They know the route beforehand and have their beloved race radios to tell them about problem areas in advance of the finale. So, leave them as they are and let the riders take responsibility for the risks they take.

LDR99 June 23, 2012 at 12:29 am

“1. The route
OK, but nothing special. Personally I don’t see the point in long flat stages (rather than just the talk about long mountain stages). If flat stages were limited to something like 150km they would pretty much turn out the exact same way as those over 200km. Save the long stages for GC days.”

I’ve always thought and understood that those long, relatively flat days, are a key component to what makes a “grand tour” grand. These guys are not just riding one day. They are grinding out long, fast, hard miles day after grueling day. Leaders’ team are on the front for most of those miles. Or sprinters’ team closing down the break. Agreed, it doesn’t make for compelling TV, but the cumulative effect of all those high tempo miles make the last week of a grand tour what it is. And so it is the strong guys with the strong team support that are there fighting in the final days.

As an aside, that brings up what has been one of the traditional criticisms of the Giro. Too many easy stages where everybody called a truce and would ride a relatively easy pace for hours, recovering as it were for a future big mountain stage.

The Giro is my favorite race. I wish everyone would ride it some year as their “A” race. Can’t avoid the fact that the Tour is the better event year in and year out because everyone is there with their “A” game. And ultimately it is the competition that makes the race.

Goonie June 22, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I thought it was a pretty good race this year.

Yeah, there was some fairly one-paced racing in the mountains – which may be incredibly hard on the riders but doesn’t look that exciting on television. However, that had nothing much to do with the parcours and everything to do with the Liquigas Express trying to win the race for Basso by grinding his competitors down. I think the only way to limit that tactic would be to reduce the size of the teams, which obviously has much broader implications.

The bonus stage thing is the kind of gimmick you find in a fantasy cycling game, not a real event.

Super-long queen stages are something that undoubtedly works better on the pages of a newspaper or an edited highlights program than on live television. Maybe a better option would be to throw the really long mountain stage on a Friday, followed by shorter stages on the prime TV audience times on the weekend?

Pirate Maboule June 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I am surprised when you say: ” Now this might be a blog and I have a Twitter account but social media is still highly marginal compared to TV, radio and press. It’s just a great channel for more information and to work on the brand. ”

Twitter and blogs indeed open new channels, and might bring a new or different public to the sport of cycling. One shall not underestimate the power of social media!

(I learned the lesson in the last months, as here in Quebec during the student strike, the social medias served to bypass the desinformation given by the state radio and television, and by the private corporate medias that only relied on the desinformation and lies of the governement and the police regarding the issues at stake. Social Medias were a way to find the real news during these dark times (that are not over). So social medias must not be underestimated! And, paradoxically given this example, that applies too to the corporate world!)

RooBay June 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I think the Giro has so much more flair and personality than the Tour. I really like this Acquarone character too – innovation should be welcomed.

I have a deep fear that this year’s Tour is going to be a boring Indurain- style tour (won in the TTs, unspectacular in the mountains). Time trials are boring at the best of times. Can’ t undertand how the Tour organisers thought it would be a good idea to put so many TT miles in with Evans and Wiggo at their peak. Also don’t understand why they didn’t put more in for Andy, Sanchez, Rolland, etc to balance out the climbers and TT specialists and promote attacking riding.

Ablindeye June 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm

At risk of a knee jerk here but…play jokers, really?

Maybe if they included Bruce Forsyth at the stage start handing out a 6 foot playing card to the team leader to carry for the duration of the stage, then I might go for it…

The best bit about the Giro – I could actually watch it on a wonderful free stream.

Josh June 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Agree on the Giro’s media advancements. In addition to a great facebook page and updates la Gazzetta had a headache-free stream and exceptional videos clips. Both la Vuelta and Le Tour’s website are crap and they appear to be designed by the same company…circa 2006.

Here’s hoping the Vuelta takes a page from Giro’s book.

Q June 22, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Regarding the points jersy, Cavendish didn’t lose the jersey because he lost that stage to Guardini. He lost the jersey on the day that Roberto Ferrari knocked him over. He only need to finish in the points that day, which he surely would have, to eventually win the points jersey. This year was somewhat unique because Rodriquez is the world’s leading specialist in short uphill finishes. The GC guys always finish high in the points, but Rodriquez had a couple of stages that were particularly suited to him this year.

I like time bonuses at the beginning of a grand tour because it’s interesting to see the sprinters duke it out for a chance at wearing the leader’s jersey for a couple of days. Later in the race they make less sense, so I think I like the formula the Giro organizers used this year.

I also like the occasional inclusion of strade bianche. Cadel Evans’ well earned stage win in 2010 was particularly memorable, and I’d like to see that again, but it doesn’t have to be every year.

Angelo senza la o June 23, 2012 at 3:03 am

Aquarone didn’t raise it (deflection?), and now no discussion about team selection. The Italian fans were perplexed and furious over the choice of NetApp over Acqua & Sapone thereby leaving out Stefano Garzelli. Garzelli had won 9 Giro stages and is the only rider who has won a jersey in every special edition of the Giro d’Italia: pink jersey in the Giro del Giubileo (Jubilee Giro, 2000), green jersey in the Giro del Centenario (100th Giro Anniversary, 2009) and another green jersey in the Giro dell’Unità d’Italia (150th anniversary of Italian Unification, 2011).

What Mauro Vegni said, “There was anger about the exclusion of Acqua&Sapone: from a purely technical point of of view the team is more capable than NetApp but in terms of the German market that NetApp opens to us we decided to invite NetApp.”

RexGlobetrotter June 23, 2012 at 3:54 am

Another great post by @inrng.

Time bonuses: I LOVE time bonuses. Bonuses make the rolling chess game even more complex and played a hand in the strategies during a lot of this race. I actually think all stage races need time bonuses. I get so sick of riders marking each other to the line so that they don’t get dropped. I want to see the winner earn it each day not just in TT’s (even though that’s my favorite discipline).

Coverage: The coverage here in the States on Universal was nice. I have become more a fan of this race since the coverage in the US improved. Acquarone gets it, more viewers will lead to more fans. I would like to see more rider interviews during the ‘slow’ moments during a stage. The more fans understand and connect with the riders, the more likely they are to return and watch another day.

Strade Bianchi: I agree on this point. These stages are cool, but it doesn’t have to be in the Giro every year.

Riders: I really enjoy the local Italian teams because they animate the race. I’m going to miss Farnese Vini and Colnago in the TdF.

I think the Giro is nicely positioned to be a Grand Tour for up and coming GC riders. Ryder is the perfect example, a solid GC guy who needed to break thru Grand Tour win. It would be awesome to see Gesink, Van den Broeck, Porte, Tejay, etc battle for the Giro win next year. I’m tired of so many riders focusing on just the TdF when they don’t really have a chance in that race. Before you win THE Grand Tour you need to win a Grand Tour (IMO).

I think Acquarone is great. A different perspective who is open to new ideas with the objective of growing the sport. Based on what he has accomplished so far, I think it’s fair to say he could be running the UCI within a few years. And don’t kid yourself, he is reading this blog. He reads and listens to everything!

Max June 23, 2012 at 4:15 am

“I think it’s fair to say he could be running the UCI within a few years.”
If we were so lucky :)

chuck June 23, 2012 at 4:14 am

1. Profit sharing policy/agreement with teams for stage wins and GC…..bingo!
2. Bring back longer (7-9 hour) stages.
I’m a huge fan, but these grand tours still lack enough suffering & excitement for me.
The riders have the tools…………we now know this.
lets see some slobber on those frames.

Michal June 23, 2012 at 8:41 am

Giro is great and I think it enjoys far more coverage than Vuelta. Maybe it is just me. Vuelta may have good year with Contador back in the action.

Jay June 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm

A more general point: when it comes to trying to get new viewers, especially for what’s regarded as the 2nd grand tour, a bit more excitement could be offered up in week 1. The Danish stages were fairly dull and even once in Italy the excitement took a few days to build. A casual viewer, with potential to stick around, might not keep faith for the tougher stages to follow. There were times on Eurosport when even Harmon and Kelly were lamenting the lack of anything to talk about on at least 2 occasions.

Max June 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Another thing I liked about the Giro was that the Roadbook, the same thing the riders got, was available for free on the internet. If you took the time to look at it, you discovered a lot about each stage.

Michael June 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm

They need a long TT early on. 2009 was an excellent race because everyone knew they had to make up time on Menchov and Di Luca, hence we had Sastre, Basso and Pellizotti going for it every stage.

2010 was again good because they first week created so many gaps.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: