Giro Shorts

Monday, 12 May 2014

A rest day in the Giro but really a day of travel with three flights out of Dublin, two with passengers and one loaded with freight, mainly bikes.

The whole of Ireland didn’t turn pink but the crowds along the route were impressive and the lengths people went to for the race were impressive from the pink clothing to even painting electricity pylons – the more you think about it the more it was a huge undertaking. It’s abnormal for the Giro to visit Ireland of course but it’s this oddity that attracts the big crowds, the event is unusual and probably won’t be back for years.

Who’s the bigot?
A confession. I thought the Giro start in Northern Ireland would be miserable with bad weather, dull roads and all held in a place to avoid, given Belfast is a city infamous for terrorism and sectarian divisions. In a word: prejudice. The weather proved me right but the people proved me wrong. Yes the riders rode past grim murals of masked gunmen but the race seemed to get such a huge welcome that even if the weather was dire and divisions remain it was a great welcome for a very foreign event. You might not visit Belfast for the cycling but the race hopefully spread the image of a friendly population to a worldwide audience more accustomed to bad news.

Dubai 2016?
Belfast was still an odd choice for a race that’s supposed to lap Italy. Nobody knows where the 2015 Giro will start but there’s talk of a grande partenza in Dubai for 2016.

It’s been a logistical challenge to take the race to Ireland, some 2,000km and one time zone away. Dubai is 4,000km from Rome but not impossible especially if Emirates airlines wants to show off and the gulf state wants to put on a show. It’s no surprise given Dubai has been paying RCS to run the Dubai Tour.

I can hear readers howling already but here’s a thought: were Dubai to host the Giro they won’t want the best riders training in Tenerife or racing in California and will pay to ensure some names turn up. The Giro’s paid molto appearance money before. By all means rail against the travelling circus aspect but if you lament the Giro’s lack of stars, this could be the difference.

Team Alon-slow
Talking of Gulf petrodollars, Team Alonso is struggling to get going. The plan is to have a team racing in 2015 and for this to happen all the paperwork has to go to the UCI in the second half of the year. They also have to sign riders and the work involved here has been going on for months. There’s a UCI rule to forbid signing riders before 1 August… but it’s ignored by everyone. Peter Sagan has been tipped, the same for Tony Martin and Niki Terpstra plus many more names to the point of being linked to Alonso has been almost enough to bump up a rider’s salary pretensions. That’s Luca Paolini in conversation with Paolo Bettini, Alonso’s mooted manager. Maybe Bettini’s whispering contract news but he could just be sharing a joke. La Gazzetta Dello Sport pictured Elia Viviani chatting with Bettini too: 2+2 = ?

But Bettini told the paper he’s still waiting for the signal to start and for now the team seems to be on hold. If it’s going to get going it has to get the green light in the next few weeks.

Cannondale
Speculation’s damaging for teams and Cannondale in particular seems to be vulnerable. Should Sagan and Viviani leave who is left? Some likeable riders but not stars nor those with ranking points. It’s like a game of musical chairs, once a rider goes then another has to come in. But the number of chairs can change, particularly if teams merge.

The Tinkov Test
Should Alonso not appear Saxo-Tinkoff seem to be leading the pack to sign Sagan. Team owner Oleg Tinkov has talked about making the team the world’s best but the test here is not merely signing a few star names, it’s whether there’s the infrastructure to back it up: how much will Tinkov spend on coaching and support. As you read this Alberto Contador is being trained on Mont Teide by Steven de Jongh who is an experienced rider and DS but, in all kindness, no sports scientist.

Kittel’s Secret Power
On the subject of sports science Marcel Kittel won’t reveal his power data. It’s not such a big deal or even useful for rivals. Sprinting isn’t just about power because aerodynamics, positioning and more counts. On a climb the speeds are so slow that aerodynamics drops off and performance is reduced to the power to weigh ratio. Plot a rival’s power curve – watts on the y-axis and duration on the x-axis – and you can start to calculate how long they’ll last on a climb at different speeds. In sprinting such calculations aren’t as useful. If Kittel did publish his numbers I suspect they’d be big, we’d wow but there’s nothing much to compare him against.

1800W
La Gazzetta Dello Sport has printed Kittel reaches 1,800W but years ago I’d seen 1890W. But the question is for how long, a peak is different from a sustained 10 or even 20 second effort. Either way the number is huge for cycling but only as powerful as a hair dryer or terms of a combustion engine, a garden tool like a hedge cutter.

Energy Prize
Kittel was the fastest in Dublin, right? New for 2014 is the Premio Energy, a daily award for the fastest rider during the final three kilometres and sponsored by French energy giant GDF Suez. Cleverly it involves little work because the race has to count the riders across the 3km line for the three kilometre rule and then obviously again at the finish line. The Giro simply times all riders between the 3km to go sign and the finish and the first three get 4-2-1 points with a €5,000 cash prize for the overall winner when the race ends.

The fastest? Yesterday it was Nacer Bouhanni and he leads with six points after being second fastest on Stage 2. As a correspondent quipped on Twitter it’s almost a prize for the worst positioned sprinter, the rider who is forced to surge through the peloton. It could incite wilder riding but the prize isn’t significant enough to make rider think twice about altering their tactics. It’s one of many extra prizes awarded by the Giro and in the coming days I’ll do a review of these because this is just one of many weird classifications.

Rain capers

That’s the UCI rule on rain clothing. It’s ignored by most teams but surely all the people who stood by the road to see the race should have been able to see the pink jersey or at least the giacca rosa, the pink jacket. As it was Svein Tuft and Michael Matthews rode in black tops and the same for other distinctive jerseys with Marcel Kittel’s red jersey hidden and Maarten Tjallingi’s blue jersey under a Belkin jacket. If the UCI won’t bother, surely commercial and broadcast imperatives should force RCS and others to insist on appropriate rain wear?

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{ 31 comments }

Trevor Ward May 12, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Watching on the TV, it appeared a race director’s car – red – ran over a rider’s bike, I think maybe Cameron Meyer’s? Meyer had certainly just crashed, and as he was helped up, there was a sickening crunching sound as the race director’s car crawled by in the bottom of the TV picture as horrified staff from Orica Green Edge and Lotto Belisol looked on. Reminiscent of Jesper Skibby on the Koppenburg….

TomH May 12, 2014 at 8:51 pm

” … a place to avoid, given Belfast is a city infamous for terrorism and sectarian divisions. In a word: prejudice. … ”
——
Maybe there’s some good cause for those concerns :

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/bomb-discovered-in-dublin-during-giro-ditalia
Bomb discovered in Dublin during Giro d’Italia
… This was a deadly, full-size bomb which had been wired up and ready for imminent use. If it had gone off it would have caused total devastation,” a source told the Irish Independent …

The Inner Ring May 12, 2014 at 9:22 pm

A newspaper linked this police discovery to the Giro but said it was linked to a dissident Irish republican group. If they want Irish nationalism why would they blow up the Giro in Dublin? But either way, the discovery of this device is an obvious concern and just because the race was safe doesn’t mean everyone else is.

Tovarishch May 13, 2014 at 8:19 am

The original story and the rebuttal was published in a newspaper owned by another Russian oligarch. Just saying.

Nick May 12, 2014 at 11:49 pm

It’s worth noting that Dublin is in a different country from Belfast. (And this is rather the point from the IRA’s perspective.) Bit harsh to use a bomb plot in one as “good cause” to be concerned about visiting the other.

BC May 12, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Agree that it about time that the UCI insisted on rainwear being in the correct colours. I understand that there are problems in printing on some of these newer products. But sponsors and spectators deserve more consideration.

I understand the Dublin bomb was intended as a present from dissident republicans to a businessman – nothing to do with the Giro.

Trevor Ward May 12, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Oh well, that’s alright then….

Robbo May 13, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Rainwear is just one example, the UCI either need to enforce their own rules or do away with them.

Alex May 12, 2014 at 10:28 pm

I’d say Northern Ireland is certainly worth visiting for the cycling – we have fantastic roads to ride and race on… just look at the recent cycling tips blog post! And besides – just look at the UK based teams that want to race at The Tour of the North and The Tour of Ulster… proper races so scant in the UK these days.

Moving south we have the Ras which always assembles a good field of international riders and a host of other races such as the Gorey (that’s where Dan Martin and Philip Diegnan started!).

Irish roads are hard, unforgiving and littered with steep climbs over our ice sculpted landscape. Worth a visit…

Tovarishch May 13, 2014 at 7:26 am

Reading those Cycling Tips blogs reminded me of my rallying days on the Isle of Mull. Has anyone tried running a cycle race there? Super roads (although narrow) and no problem with road closures.

David May 13, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Didn’t Dan Martin start racing in Birmingham?

Paul Jakma May 16, 2014 at 12:58 am

Yeah, I cycled south from Belfast myself the other month. The roads are lovely, especially if you plan a route via the plentiful, quiet, country farm roads. Ireland’s a fairly friendly place too, be it north or south of the border.

Andy Logan May 12, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Kittel’ power is impressive, the TdF should be awesome this year with Griepel, Cav, Kittel and Sagan.

Like you INRNG I had seen a number close to 1900w a few years ago, but yesterday it looked like he would of held 1500w for upwards of 20s or so.

The Handmade Cyclist May 13, 2014 at 1:04 am

The ‘Giro bomb’ story is not just nonsense (nothing to do with the Giro) but also a huge shame for the Province. As Inrng’s story suggests, those who have not been to NI will have the wrong impression – you won’t find a more welcoming place than Ireland, on either side of the border, great roads too.

Not judging those who think otherwise, but it would be a real shame if this story hijacked the great PR the race has brought.

Tom May 13, 2014 at 4:33 am

1800 Watts is a lot – in a hairdryer most of that is going to heat, which takes a lot of energy to produce so fast – though most folks will be imagining the little fan blowing air.

1800 Watts would run my house’s air conditioning system, including the fan.

GeorgeY May 13, 2014 at 11:07 am

Better analogy for 1800 Watts is the motor of a vacuum cleaner or a leaf blower, plenty of those on the market.

Trick question: If a vacuum cleaner produces 300 Watts of suction by using a 1800W motor, how many Watts of suction does Marcel Kittel produce as he gasps for air while sprinting for the finish ?

Paul Jakma May 16, 2014 at 12:49 am

It’s a lot, but I bet he can produce more than in brief bursts. Even a decent amateur can hit over 2 kW for a second or two in a brief, all-out sprint (i.e. <= 10s)..

Larrick May 13, 2014 at 5:24 am

You might be right about the Bettini – Paolini chat. With Alonso’s well known aversion to beards, Luca obviously had something to hide…

PT May 13, 2014 at 5:58 am

Maybe he’s saying: ” Trim the eyebrows! Trim the eyebrows! Nobody can have bigger eyebrows than the boss! ”

Although to be fair, I don’t know if Paolini has big eyebrows or not.

Salsiccia May 13, 2014 at 10:25 am

Absolutely agree on covering up of jerseys, was a pity for all those on the side of the road not to see the maglia rosa.

And on the subject of those on the side of the road, what a fantastic turn-out from the good people of NI & RoI. Absolutely brilliant.

DP May 13, 2014 at 11:10 am

I visited Belfast for a week last May with a friend who hails from the city and I was pleasantly surprised.

The murals are thought provoking and if I’m honest they caused a range of emotions from sadness to complete delusion, but they’re’ just one part of the story. The people of Belfast and the city itself are fantastic, although Dublin might get the lions share of visitors to that part of the world, I would recommend Belfast to anyone.

International events like the Giro can only do good things in exposing the warmth and fun Belfast has to offer.

I for one am please the good things everyone has to say about the Giro’s start there.

Barry May 13, 2014 at 11:13 am

I have to say I’m a little surprised at INRNGS short sited view on Northern Ireland…a lot has changed on this island (NI and the Republic) in recent times and the Giro coming to the North, and moving to the south, is a huge undertaking both logistically and you could say politically. For such an informative blog, politically and economically as well as pro cycling news it is surprising.

Personally I am from the South (Cork) where some of the Islands, and this side of the worlds IMO, best cycling is. I had not been to Belfast for a long time untill Friday and was completely blown away by how they embraced the race and by the development and welcome which is now in place in the city. I even ate in a restaurant named Coppi! On a personal level I wil be going back to do some riding and enjoy the city a bit more.

One swallow doesn’t make a season and for sure one crazy republican does not mean there is a nation of them. Correlation does not mean causation springs to mind. Terrorist factions in Spain still operate but are not linked to the many races occuring there over the year, timing was unfortunate in this case but lets not lose the run of ourselves. The Irish Independent should be ashamed of reporting a story in such a way as they did, lets just hope it does not harm the chances of a UCI Tour of Ireland returning, we deserve it. The independents reporting is even stranger when you think that they are one of the few papers which gives cycling any column inches regularly.

Alongside Britain Ireland has seen a resurgeance in cycling in the past few years which is phenomenal. The Rás begins soon which is one of the most raw and real stage races there is, truly a race with an amazing history and a litany of heroes. Last month the provincial Rás Mumhan (Munster) was run around Cork and Kerry and was amazingly successful on some of the most scenic roads this side of Italy…I recommend a trip to ride them to anyone. Cycling Tips have done some features on the Giro route and some routes in Dublin/Wicklow too, I think Cork and Kerry is where the real wonders are though.

The Inner Ring May 13, 2014 at 11:27 am

If you don’t live there the only news is of riots and politicians being arrested etc. without wanting to over-analyse it of course we know these “troubles” concern only a minority but they still dominate the headlines. La Gazzetta today has a big piece on the bomb story which won’t help.

Barry May 13, 2014 at 11:33 am

Its unfortunate that the only news these days is bad news but trust me when I say it is a different picture living here and knowing the situation. I thought the pictures of the team TT racing past murly murals were going to paint (pardon the pun) a new picture of ther troubles…Stormont looked incredible with the crowds and pink. The NY Times covering the Adams arrest would have sent it out to the world and that incident did feel like a return to the dark times but it was isolated.

Hopefully the Grande Partenza can instigate the new generation of cyclists in Ireland, 1998 probably cemented the bad rep of pro cycling, this will eliminate it.

nevskin May 14, 2014 at 12:25 am

Inner ring- please read this piece from Shane Stokes on the Independents bomb ‘ story’ ..
http://cyclingtips.com.au/2014/05/opinion-newspaper-linking-car-bomb-to-giro-visit-backtracks-on-claims-but-damage-is-done/
Key point is the papers own security correspondent pours cold water on the Giro as a target.

The Inner Ring May 14, 2014 at 12:27 am

Read already and recommended

Barry May 13, 2014 at 11:47 am

On the topic of jerseys, if Castelli can produce a fluro yellow gabba surely they and others (who all seem to be doing the same style now, craft, vermarc, exteondo etc) can produce a fluro pink one for the Giro? Sean Kelly mentioned the priting of logos affects the waterproofing but a plain pink is surely better than a plain black!

ultratorque May 13, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Have to say a bit disappointed at the level of safety for the riders while in ireland surely more of the time trial stage should have had barriers considering the weather conditions it was a miracle there were not more crashes, people so desperate to get a picture standing virtually in front of a team travelling a 30 plus mph. the road surfaces looked appalling and no attempt to remove road furniture or have people flagging them i’m guessing the giro won’t be back any time soon.

Barry May 13, 2014 at 1:01 pm

There were marshals at the the majority of the juntions/street furniture but I do agree that there was a requirement for more barriers at certain corners. The first corner onto the Newtown Ards Road was appalingly controlled, people spilling onto the road where the fastest line was clearly through the apex. Lots of people on the road after the Garmin crash and we were shouting at them to get of as you had the next team and Hathan Haas barreling down towards them.

As for the rest of the route and people on the road? Watch Paris Roubaix anytime lately? Try barricading an entire route, not gonna happen, people for the most part were well behaved and any incursions onto the road were just over enthusiastic.

Of course it wonr be back soon, it will travel around to other places but someday might be back, I wouldnt say what you have mentioned will have a bearing.

Alpen May 13, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Don’t forget inrng, it’s Tinkov-Saxo these days ;-)
http://www.tinkoffsaxo.com/

Warren May 13, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Regarding Kittel’s power, perhaps it’s instructive to compare it to the three century old metric of horsepower, where 1hp translates to 746watts.

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