Giro Rest Day Wrap

Enjoyed the first week? Vincenzo Nibali’s had a great time but everyone else watching as well should have found this a great start to the race. Sometimes rest days are impatient moments but this time it feels like it’s worth having a break before the race starts again tomorrow with a severe summit finish.

No rest: there’s no racing but there’s not much rest either. The race has moved north-east across the country to the foot of the Alps. Most riders will have ridden today. The temptation might be to put the feet up but a gentle ride is always needed. It helps with circulation and prevents water-retention and the feeling of wooden legs the next day. Eating is also important, yes to refuel but no to overdoing it. It’s a good day for a heavier meal with some extra protein as there’s more time to digest it. Some riders don’t cope well with rest days finding they feel blocked the next day only tomorrow’s vicious mountain stage means there’s no easing back into the race.

Rest days are mandatory under the UCI rules and sensible because they also allow for transfers although the same rules state that a rest day has to offer rest and riders cannot spend the day travelling by bus, train or plane, there has to be a chance for recovery and riding. The rest day will do little to stop the body’s fatigue but everything helps. It’s also welcomed by everyone else on the race as journalists get a chance to find the laundrette, TV commentators rest their voices and others can recover from working and travelling for nine straight days.

Cadel Evans and Robert Gesink are right where they need to be. Evans has been visible sprinting for time bonuses already and now wears the red points jersey. Gesink is having a great Giro only his performance is by stealth. No big attacks, just consistent riding and he’s sitting third overall, 1.15 down on Nibali.

Britain: Bradley Wiggins fortune’s have fluctuated this week much to the anxiety of the British media discovering the race. But they need not fret because Britons have taken nearly half the stages since the race started. Ok, double-stage winner Cavendish is from the Isle of Man and Team Sky’s cosmopolitan but both are Brit-registered and with the exiled Alex Dowsett it means Her Majesty can take satisfaction in the performance even if Sir Bradley has had a knight-mare at times.

Weather: One factor in the race has been the rain. There’s the obvious tale of Wiggins but it’s caused plenty of problems for others. Several riders have crashed out of the race completely and the rain is a factor in some cases. It’s also contributing to the fatigue, whether from the cold or the stress. Plus there’s more work for the team mechanics who wash all the bikes and team vehicles. They do it every day anyway but it means additional work is needed compared to a sunny day. So a rest day is good for the staff too.

Weather Forecast: The bad news is that the forecast says the second week will be wet. Given the race is now in the north of Italy it will be cold as well with the thermometer struggling to pass 20°C all week. The good news is that this forecast has proved consistently wrong this week, predicting dry weather on several days only for the ensuing stage to be defined by the deluge.

Katusha have been the success of the first week with Luca Paolini’s reign in pink and then Maxim Belkov’s stage win. They weren’t even supposed to be in the race until the Court of Arbitration ruled them back in. Giro organisers RCS were not happy with the late inconvenience of having suddenly to find room for an extra team. But they should be thanking the CAS now given they’ve had an Italian in the race lead for days to encourage home interest.

Business: I don’t know how profitable the Giro is for RCS but the Italian sports and media company is expanding its operations around the world. Success breeds success as the more the Giro becomes famous, the greater its brand value. This explains recent gran fondo rides in the US and also the move to launch the Dubai Tour for next year although note it’s tour and not giro of course. It means the season will have long section in the Arabian peninsula, with Qatar, Dubai and then Oman. More info on the deal over at the Italian Cycling Journal.

You wonder about old Euro races but if teams are in the Middle-East already for Qatar and Oman then Dubai makes little difference. It’ll be interesting to see if the route extends into the UAE because there are hills or whether it somehow sticks to the city because the Hajar mountains are not far away. Dubai is famous as a air transport, conference and retail hub but he’s the chance to show the world what lies beyond the poured concrete.

Gazzetta Dello Sport

Page Turner: Italian newspaper La Gazzetta is part of RCS. It is to the Giro what L’Equipe is to the Tour de France as both newspapers created the race they now report on. Only the Italian race has to compete with the Calcio, the Italian soccer league for column inches. It’s a real pleasure to read La Gazzetta every morning but it comes with the risk of Repetitive Strain Injury as you leaf through the pages to find the cycling. The race did make the front pages over the weekend but take today an example and cycling starts on page 36. It’s no big deal but does highlight how football is massive in Italy and even the newspaper that sits in the same corporate stable as the race isn’t going wild promoting its own race. The good news though is that it’s worth the read with a range of daily coverage, insight and analysis.

Blog: another way to get insight into the race is to read Cameron Wurf’s blog. It’s impressive for the dexterity of being typed on a Blackberry from the team bus but you’ll read for the daily info on what it’s like to be in the race. The Cannondale rider’s having a good Giro so far with the notable breakaway on the opening day.

Another Australian having a great Giro is Adam Hansen. Much has been made of his shoes and rightly so. The artisanal look something but apparently they weigh 105 grams each. By comparison Mavic’s lightweight Huez, amongst the lightest on the market claim 380g a pair, so 190g each. I’m not here to promote Hansen’s shoes but find it fascinating to see a rider design their own shoes and come up with such fundamental improvements in weight. Comfort remains to be seen but Hansen’s tested them in the heat of the Tour of Turkey and the rain of the Giro. Most interesting you can buy them, or as least they will be for sale later this summer from Hansen’s new website:

Crowds: One question from a reader was why there aren’t any crowds on the climbs? We’ve seen big crowds in town but it’s true that the climbs are often empty. Only the roads in the Apennines wind up the hill with little real estate for spectators to occupy. You have the road cut into the mountain with plenty of vegetation growing wild then often on the other side there’s a big crash barrier and a vertiginous drop. Simply put there’s no room to stand, the road is the only level place. Plus remember the Giro is taking place during May and many are at work. By contrast the Tour de France takes place during July when the country is packed with tourists.

Out: Argos-Shimano’s John Degenkolb is out of the race. “After a very long and intensive block of racing from the beginning of February onward, I feel that it’s getting really hard to recover… I am simply not fit anymore” he says in a press release. With Cadel Evans probably only more likely to extend his lead in the points competition in the mountains you wonder how many more sprinters will remain in the race.

Last but not least, let’s salute Mattia Gavazzi of Androni Giocattoli is the maglia nera of the race, the black jersey or last rider. He’s soldiering on after crashes but also found time to tangle with Garmin-Sharp’s Robbie Hunter on the stage to Magherita di Savoia.

28 thoughts on “Giro Rest Day Wrap”

  1. Nice piece, and some nice ahem pics too. It was mentioned yesterday in commentary how the small teams had justified their existence in the race and it seems watching most of the first week that they certainly have. It made me wonder which team had (by some method of calculation) had done the LEAST or had the least amount of exposure by action at the front.

    • Usually by the end of a grand tour you see a team in the results and think “were they really in the race, I hardly noticed” but this time I’ve seen all of the teams, for example FDJ haven’t done too well so far but Bouhanni was visible in the sprints and Pichon looks like an Egyptian mummy in his bandages whilst Euskaltel have been on the attack as usual.

  2. Loved that link to Wurf’s blog, thanks. Interesting to read about the lengths Movistar have gone to in their quest for enhanced performance … I’d heard it was important to have friends in the peloton, but sucking someone’s helmet off is a bit much.

  3. I had always wondered if the Giro honored their Lantern Rouge in a similar fashion to Le Tour. It’s great to see riders soldiering on in spite of fatigue , injuries, and bad luck.

    It has been an entertaining and technical Giro thus far. Nibali flipping the tables on Wiggo, a surprisingly in-form and competetive Cadel Evans, Robert “Crash”ink riding like a true pro to sit in 3rd place . In addition to having some very solid team support. Biggest surprises are Wiggos troubles (too muchtraining and reliance on technology?) and Hejsdal having two bad days over the weekend.

    Love Adam Hansens shoes and performance in stage 7. It’s no wonder he rode away from Emanuella Sella and the Peloton.

    Conspicuous question marks ? How many sprinters retire before tomorrow ? Only two days left for the sprint trains. Do Astana, BMC, Blanco, or Garmin have strong enough teams to support their team captains? Last week was a training camp in Tenerife compared to what awaits the next two weeks. The team captains will have big demands from their domestiques.

  4. I thought Katusha had brought a bit of a B team, but they’ve had an amazing first week.
    As you said last week INRNG:
    “It’s a frustration for RCS to take 23 teams only to find Katusha’s squad is not the most exciting but they’ve got riders for stage wins.”

    Hope to see a Columbian take a win in the next few days (either from the team, or maybe Betancur can take one for real!)

  5. Gesink is very stealth indeed. I haven’t seen any of the top riders interviewed mentioning him as a big threat. I’m very curious to see how he fares when the big bad mountains come. Climbing is not usually his weak point.

  6. ‘Knight mare’! Lol! Sky-guy/s too busy preparing, planning, preparing, planning,
    planning and preparing! Should be effecting like a butterfly!

  7. It’ll be interesting to see how Wiggo goes. I think he knows the cold and descending are his weakness, he even said he descended “like a girl” in the ITT. Tomorrow’a stage may well find him out again, with a tight descent leading straight into the final climb: no time to chase back on before it goes back up hill.

  8. Is it me or has the UCI has chosen RCS and ASO as the only org’s to produce World Tour events?

    It seems to me any other race organizers have had their events bumped way down the calendar. This is going back quite a few years when the choice of bike frame material was steel and steel.

    Great read as always.

    • I think it’s you.

      They don’t do the Tour down under
      Flanders Classics are organizers of E3 Harelbeke, Tour of Flaanders and Gent- Wevelgem.
      Tour of the Basque country are done by DarioVasco
      Amstel Gold Race foundation does the Amstel Gold race
      Tour de Romandy is and independent organization
      Tour de Suisse are done by IMG

      An also the Classica San Sebastian, Eneco Tour, Tour of Poland , The canadian races and Vattenfall Cycclassic are done by other than the ASO and RCS

  9. I really hope that the big descent tomorrow is dry so that he gets to the bottom with the leaders and we get a chance to see if Sir Wiggo’s legs are as good as I suspect they are.

    • This seems to be the probelm with Wiggins and Team Sky – go off script and the plan falls apart. Yes, let us hope it is dry but Wiggins has to deal with all terrain and all weather like the other aspirants. Wiggins gets given time trails to entice him to participate – see TdF 2012. Why don’t we get on with making the races the best they can be (note organisers – this Giro looks like it may fill the bill) rather than pandering to a “superstar’s” strengths? On another note, is this blog getting too parochial?

    • I’d guess that the buckles and fishing line aren’t actually made or developed by Sidi or NW or Gaerne, or whomever, but rather an off the shelf product from a clothing materials company like YKK for zippers. In theory, he could source them from the same place. Just a guess.

      • Rock up to any factory in China and they will sell you the one they are making for the big name (or copy it). Lots of products there are ripped off by the local manufacturers, but it would be very interesting to see the Specialized techies watching him…

  10. Great coverage (as usual) really can’t see past Nibali for the win, really pleased that Cadel is back (class is permanent etc) Wiggo has really lost his mojo and I think it will cost him again tomorrow, but don’t count him out yet he could still sort it out, he’s a fierce competitor and I don’t think anyone needs to panic yet (classic Brirish media) however personally I am secretly rooting for nibbles !!! I watched the preview of tomorrow’s final climb courtesy of Dan Lloyd, it going to be very very tough, Betancur for the win tomorrow I predict!

  11. Call me impetuous, but I’m predicting the Giro/Tour double for Cadel this year. He’s hit the form he had in 2011, and his team seem to be supporting him well. He also proved in 2010 that he can back up well for the Tour after a tough Giro, and barring illness and crashes, it’s definitely on the cards.

    • I’ll have a glass of whatever you’re having Aussie Joe. Last to win the Giro/Tour double only did so by being ridiculously EPO’d to the eyeballs. Nearest to that recently was Alberto, he couldn’t do it and we all know his form when it comes to ‘contaminated steak’.

      The fairytale might be Cuddles winning this (going out in style) and then working for TJ the gardener in the Tour. How good would it be to have his advice, super-domestique work etc. in the Tour? Would also show Sky how *not* to handle its team ala Wiggins and Froome.

      • “Last to win the Giro/Tour double only did so by being ridiculously EPO’d to the eyeballs.” Really? More even than “Mr. 60%” was? One year later the same fellow was tossed from the Giro for being over 50%…so it’s kind of tough for me to imagine him being “EPO’d” a whole lot more than the others. No excuse – cheating is cheating, but I think Marco Pantani’s exploits are too often attributed only to doping by English-speakers.
        On another note, did I miss the welcome to Velo Veneto as a sponsor? I spoke years ago to the orginal owner/founder, Ron Palazzo I believe his name was, don’t know if he’s still involved there, but anyway BRAVO for stepping up the plate with a sponsorship of this fine blog! Grazie!

  12. Don’t forget Hanso’s sold his software programme to Lotto and is apparently looking to sell it to other teams (training/logistical stuff).

    I’d be interested to see the DS’ reaction if his cleats break…? What must the mechanics think?

  13. On the subject of shoes, I would like to renew my old (but heavy) Carnac’s but they now seem to be sold in secret! Typical French.

Comments are closed.