Bad weather – How Froome’s Knigh-mare scenario in July – McQuaid’s Swiss role – UCI deny Verbruggen’s “never, never, never” quote – Tour du Farce – Chamorro, another Colombian to remember – California Coverage
The 2013 Giro’s official song Mezza Estate (“midsummer”) is feeling like a cruel joke with snowploughs working overtime to keep the roads open. Why is it raining so much in the Giro? Is Mother Nature punishing RCS for moving the “Race of the Falling Leaves” to September, ruining Il Lombardia’s autumnal feel? Maybe it’s all in the name, the Giro’s boss is Michele Acqua-rone after all.
But it’s nothing freakish. Some of the problems are man-made. First the Giro has crept back in the calendar this year, a decade ago the race started on 10 May meaning the traditional week in the Alps came later. Not much at this time of year every week makes a difference. Second the Galibier just isn’t normally cleared until late May anyway so visiting this side of June is always a gamble. No doubt the weather’s just been rotten too. The trip across the south of Italy featured many a downpour and now the cold is added to the wet. Riders who do finish risk being even more tired and prone to illness than ever because of the conditions.
Why Froome could have to ride for Wiggins – a Tour scenario
Perhaps leaving the Giro was the best thing for Bradley Wiggins and Ryder Hesjedal. What next? I don’t know but let’s imagine Wiggins starts the Tour de France. I’ve looked again at the route and here’s a plausible scenario:
- After avoiding accidents in Corsica Team Sky perform well in the Nice team time trial stage allowing Wiggins and Froome to gain a lead on their rivals at BMC, Saxo-Tinkoff, Katusha and more.
- The Pyrenees this year are lite with only one major stage – pictured above – posing a challenge. The Port de Pailhères climb can be ridden at high tempo by Sky’s mountain train and then the Ax 3 Domaines summit finish, a moderate finish of 10km at 6% which Wiggins will like
- Fast forward to the 33km Avranches to Mont St Michel time trial where Wiggins blasts around the flat course in his 55 tooth chainring, taking time on everyone else putting him in the yellow jersey
- The race then rides to the Alps where Chris Froome cannot attack because Wiggins leads the race.
The saga goes on
McQuaid’s Swiss Role
Talking of sagas, Pat McQuaid’s quest for a third term as UCI President continues. With trouble securing a nomination from Irish Cycling he’s now switched to Swiss Cycling. It’s a humiliating move because rather than stand and argue his case at an upcoming meeting in Ireland he’s switched allegiances before exhausting the Irish avenue.
Now Switzerland’s an international place and McQuaid has been resident there for years so it’s quick and easy for him to do but I hope it doesn’t make him withdraw further from public debate at time when he needs to be stating his case. Impressively McQuaid pledged to his fellow countrymen (the Irish, not the Swiss) that if they’d back him he’d launch a review of the UCI’s governance during his third term. Here’s hoping that if “Patrice” McQuaid can switch countries he’ll still stick to the the much needed review.
What Hein Verbruggen Said
If you think swapping nations is sneaky, there’s more. The UCI has produced a briefing document defending its past actions in relation to “the Armstrong affair.” It’s a subject I’ll probably return to next week in greater detail. One detail sees the UCI denying the now infamous phrase by Hein Verbruggen. Here’s an excerpt:
Only it seems they’re citing what looks to be a poorly translated quote from a newswire rather than the actual source in AD.nl. Here is the actual quote with my translation added:
“Ik herhaal het nog maar eens: Lance Armstrong heeft nooit doping gebruikt. Nooit, nooit, nooit”
I repeat it once again: Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never
What’s it all mean? Well the UCI says it’s come under “sustained attack” from the media. But a defence document that tries to set the record straight seems at best to have mistaken information or worse, still struggles to come clean over something as irrelevant as a clumsy interview.
The UCI’s got problems with its leadership but it does plenty of good. Sometimes you feel you have to state this so that people realise that the governing body is actually about 100 people working hard for the sport rather than the wobbly tandem of Verbruggen and McQuaid and the often own-goal scoring communications service.
The UCI’s done some good things with women’s racing but they and the French Federation need to take a look into what’s been happening in France this week. In times past the Tour de l’Aude was one of the best women’s stage races. Held in the south of France between the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees it offered fine roads and good racing but admin problems meant in stopped in 2010. It’s come back under the name of the of the Tour du Languedoc-Rousillon, the name of the wider region. Only it’s been a farce. First teams travelling to the race heard by Twitter than the race was cancelled but then the news changed. We’ve learned policing costs and other important matters were not paid for and the riders have been lodged on a spartan campsite serving the most economical dishes. Now even the men can get cheap conditions but never this bad but it’s not the simplicity of the surroundings, it’s the way the race almost didn’t start and the eleventh hour chaos that needs to be investigated.
Chamorro leads the Ronde
Meanwhile just to the west the Ronde de l’Isard stage race has been a success. It’s an amateur stage race with a long list of famous winners and in recent years the likes of David Moncoutié, Denis Menchov, Christophe Le Mével, Michael Creed, Kenny Elissonde, Andrew Talansky and Joe Dombrowski have stood on the podium. There are many amateur races in Europe but few venture into the high mountains, the Galibier and Tourmalet are reserved for the Tour or Giro. But the Ronde de l’Isard uses the Pyrenees and often reveals talents that most other races cannot. Going into Sunday’s final stage this year’s race is being led by Juan Chamorro of 472-Colombia. The pre-race favourite, Chamorro was second in last year’s Tour de l’Avenir and is following the likes of Nairo Quintana only he seems to be a more punchy rider rather than a pure mountain goat.
— RADIOVELO (@radiovelo31) May 18, 2013
Finally, last but not least, a few people have asked why I’ve not been covering the Tour of California. Well other people do it better. I’ve never visited the state yet alone raced or ridden there so I don’t know the geography. Plus this is a blog and not a newswire, there’s not the time with the Giro and more. Still it’s been enjoyable to follow. Tejay van Garderen and the BMC team are in control, perhaps setting up another “who is the Tour de France team leader” debate for the media? But for me it’s different at BMC. The team doesn’t have many mountain climbers so their riders have to react and invent on the road rather than rely on a mountain train.
Also the whole subject of overlapping races is something to revisit. As the USA’s premium race, the Tour of California is competing with the Giro. But only partially because the Tour of California is not on the World Tour calendar, largely so it can invite home teams for domestic interest rather than play host to squads promoting the Belgian lottery or French health insurance. For me the real problem is overlapping World Tour races, for example Paris-Nice vs Tirreno-Adriatico or the Dauphiné vs Tour de Suisse.