A look at some of the stories in and around the Giro away from the daily stage previews.
Still can’t believe we did this tunnel in yesterday’s final with 70km/h with no extra lights! @UCI_cycling why always speaking about safety but give permission for this? #ShameOnYou #safety #NoRespect pic.twitter.com/ZAElPiEFfh
— Wout Poels (@WoutPoels) May 12, 2018
Yesterday’s Giro stage went through three tunnels between 10km and 5km to go and apparently at least one of them was not illuminated. If you’ve never raced through a tunnel it’s tempting to say you’re missing one of life’s more unusual experiences but you’re probably better off for it. It’s akin to riding with a blindfold on, all of sudden you can’t see the riders in front or beside you and in seconds you are disorientated, where is the way out? Even in a straight tunnel where you can see the light ahead if it’s dark around it’s nervous as you hear freewheels whizzing, or worse, the sound of brake pads on rims and riders calling out. Italy has a lot of tunnels and it used to be a risk of the race. Many have lighting now and the UCI has tightened up the rules:
They have to be illuminated meaning if they’re not equipped then it’s up to the Giro (or any other race organiser) to rent equipment if the local authorities won’t do it for the day. Note Wout Poels is taking the UCI to task but the governing body is not responsible for course design.
Talking of staying in the dark, no news from BMC Racing about their future. Word inside the team was that the 1st May was a date to here news about a new sponsor but this has passed without any confirmation, good or bad. What’s certain is that across all levels of a pro team this creates uncertainty. The most humble of riders will start to look for a job elsewhere now because if the team does fold later then their chances of a berth elsewhere are slim if they leave it late while the highest paid riders are such a big part of a team’s budget that they can’t just come on the market late in the year, any team looking to hire the likes of Richie Porte or Greg Van Avermaet needs to lock in the budget now and then start hiring support riders too. Meanwhile there’s a Catch-22 scenario where a replacement sponsor wants to know what they’re getting, ie will they have Porte and GVA to promote their brand or not? In short time is running out to learn if Tag-Heuer or Sophos is on board.
Continuing with the musical chairs in the teams, today’s Gazzetta Dello Sport reports that Trek-Segafredo’s manager Luca Guercilena could move to UAE Emirates. Unlike football or other sports management switches are rare in cycling because often the managers own the team but here UAE-Emirates look like they need better management to oversee their increasing budget and growing roster of star riders.
- Away from the Giro and Cofidis are a team that have sacked managers in the manner of a football team over the years. The consumer loan firm has announced it’ll keep sponsoring their team through to 2022, extending a sponsorship agreement that first started in 1997. The ambitions and wins have been scaled back since then, the immediate question is whether the current management can patch things up with Nacer Bouhanni and whether he can return to his best. He’s just won a stage of the Four Days of Dunkerque but being outside the World Tour means he’s got few chances to test his sprinting legs against the best ahead of the Tour de France; if he rides the Dauphiné there’s barely a sprint stage in it.
UAE and Team Sky are among the big budget teams so they have money to spend. They’re the subject of another polemica where both hired helicopters to take them off Etna and fly to their hotels on the Italian mainland. Everyone else had to board their team bus, drive to Messina, queue and catch the ferry across the straits, then drive to the hotel which took hours while the chopper took minutes. L’Equipe points out today that helicopters are used in the Tour de France sometimes but they’re provided by race owner ASO and transport the riders leading the classification while private flights by the teams are not allowed.
A Giro FAQ about the daily profiles and their annotations. R = Rifornimento or Feed Zone, TV = Traguardo Volante or Intermediate Sprint and the initials below the profile indicate which province the race is in, eg today’s finish is in AV or Avellino, these same initials are on the vehicle registration plates in Italy. Finally the SDS on the right belongs to Stefano di Santo, the man behind the graphics.
The Tour of California starts soon. Readers have asked for daily previews but there are two problems here. The first is surmountable in that daily stage previews take up a lot of time – way more than any other type of post – so doing two a day would consume a lot of time but theoretically possible. The second is more serious, I don’t know my Big Bear from my Baldy, my South Lake Tahoe from Laguna Seca whereas the roads and regions of Italy, France, Belgium etc are much more familiar and if they’re unknown then there’s always the chance to go and recon them, something harder for California. Still hopefully the blog can take a look at this important race in the coming week because the race matters for several reasons.