Giro Coverage

The site’s Giro guide is now online at Once the race is on there will be daily stage previews and a variety of other pieces looking at Italian cycling culture and more.

If you’re browsing the desktop version look for the “Giro” link at the top of the page. Mobile device users can use the drop-down menu to get the same Giro page. Or if you’re really keen, remember or even bookmark for the month of May.

The page has profiles of every stage and a quick take on each day’s route as well as explainers for the jerseys including the full breakdown of points for the mountains and points competitions plus details of the new “best descender” prize in case you need to reference them during the coming weeks. There’s info on TV coverage too.

12 thoughts on “Giro Coverage”

  1. I’ve tried to Wiki it but I can’t find the answer. Can anyone tell me why an Italian mountain is called “Blockhaus”? I realize a blockhaus is a gun emplacement- was there a famous one there? Many thanks.

    • Daniel Friebe’s excellent 2011 book Mountain High used the phrase ‘Referring to a stone garrison dating from the 1860s and christened by a commander of German origin, the true climb of Blockhaus…’. NB: I consider that book almost essential reading.

    • According to Mountain High the name was given by a military commander from German origin and it refers to a stone garrison dating back to the 1860s. The local name for the mountain is Majella apparently.

      • That’s right, mountain is the Majella / Maiella, the Blockhaus term. Back in the day Italy was a loose concept and Austro-Hungarian officers prevalent in the army/armies. One Germanic officer was in charge of the construction of a small fort to help fight brigands and smugglers in the region and so the Blockhaus (Block House) name came about. Still the Giro only goes to 1665m when the actual Blockhaus is at 2142m. It’s near the Passo Lanciano and Majelletta which might be more well known.

    • In fact, this year they’ll arrive at the “Majelletta” zone, nearly 500 mts below the true “Blockhaus”, which, besides being the name commonly attributed to the old garrison, became also the geographic name properly used to identify a mountain top zone, or better said a sort of high plateau, within the way vaster Majella massif.

      “Blockhaus” or even “Bloccaus” was really a common noun for that kind of little fortress, apparently used throughout Europe during the 19th century.
      For instance, I found it discussed as such in a Military Anthology (“Antologia Militare”) published in 1841 in the Kingdom of Naples. The author, an officer, tries to translate it in Italian but finaly says that it makes little sense since “it’s a very expressive word, it’s widely used in Europe and the well-educated Italian officers will always understand its meaning as it’s generally taught while learning military arts”.
      Hence, I think that the building hadn’t exactly been “christened” or “named” like that (and perhaps no German commander was involved, either, the whole story looks like an etymology built up in later decades): it was a specific *kind* of fortification which was considered “modern” in the first half of the 19th century and whose name (in the sense of a common noun) was spread in its originary linguistic form or at most as a calque, like, dunno, “yogurt”, “pizza”, “robot”, “guerrilla” or “computer” in other centuries or languages.
      But when local people lost that specific – quite technical – concept, or the idea itself that it was a common noun, it became a proper noun. Something along the lines of, dunno, “Castres” in France or “Castelluccio” in Italy.

      No asphalted road ever arrived on the top as such, but it was possible to get to a parking at about 2050 mts over sea level. The last part of the road, 5 kms or so, isn’t accessible anymore, I think (it was when I climbed it some years ago).

      I believe that RCS recovered that peculiar but in this case not very precise name in order to hint at the memories from 1970 and 1973, when *this same (very hard) side of the climb* was tackled a couple of time until the riders’ complaints had it out until now (please note that there’s no relation between the side of the climb and the “Blockhaus” name, the different sides join each other well below the “Blockhaus”, it’s just a *brand* thing).

  2. I must admit I’m not especially fond of this year’s course, when compared to Giro’s standards.
    It’s fine, and especially the first two mountain-top finishes are impressive, plus the Stelvio stage, if they’ll be able to race it, is mammoth, and the short Dolomites one promises to be very sparky, too – yet, it looks to me that the course as a whole and through many other details has got several flaws when compared to previous, recent years.
    I’m afraid that the attempt to lure Froome in cost a lot…
    Some stages look like lost occasions, sweetened versions of what-might-have-been (and I’m not speaking of having more or “harder” mountains, I’m speaking of more complicated mixed terrain, enough to have more of an impact on the race; or when they’re tackling a final loop in the “wrong” direction; more monoclimbs than usual; and so on).
    I just hope that a very good startlist will have the riders really making the race – which is generally what matters the most.

    • You’re probably right, but I’m hoping the race itself overcomes this – especially the travesty that is the Stelvio stage. They go DOWN the classic, 48-numbered switchbacks that so many of the golden era went UP just to loop around and come back up the Swiss side. Why not go the other way instead? I’ve ridden up both and there’s no comparison!!!

      • Exactly, Larry. That’s precisely one of the final loops I was thinking about, but there are others (the Dolomites finale, the Romagna one…). Always the “wrong” way around.
        Then, there are those stages where it nearly looks like they made an effort to keep out what might have been natural from a “cyclo-geographic” POV: Calabria, Oropa, Reggio Emilia, Bergamo look like they’ve been ironed along nearly a hundred of kms.
        Inrng writes “from the sublime to the ridiculous” about the “Coppi/Girardengo to Pantani” stage (I guess that Coppi’s was “sport science” and hence everybody must be fine with its sublimity), but what’s ridiculous is RCS finding the way to avoid each and every hill in a stage which pays homenage to Coppi and Girardengo starting from their crimped lands: look at the profile, they even *neutralised* the first few kms out of Castellania, downhill on twisty country roads (very narrow but prefectly ashpalted, at least when I visited them some years ago). You never know, somebody might have attacked 😛
        Well, whatever, finger crossed and let’s hope that the guys throw in spice as they’ve been doing each and every year on Italian roads… “Each and every”? Hey, wait, we might be going 2012 all over again! Nooooo… 😉

        • Well, I for one do remember 2012 fondly if only for Ion Izagirre’s stage win (his first and Euskaltel-Euskadi’s last GT and penultimate WT win).
          I’m perhaps unduly optimistic about the level of excitement I can look forward to in the coming weeks, but we’ll see – and we can hope the old adage will apply: it’s the riders who make the race.

          But I have a question, too, addressed to the entire inrng readership. A question that popped out of the blue during yesterday’s long ride and one that stymied the whole group despite deep cycling interest and varying levels of the major cycling languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch).

          Is there a word in the languages mentione for those cyclists’ names painted or stencilled on hill stages? I mean, a cycling specific word for the road graffiti or inscriptions. The custom is old as hills and cycling jargon has had ages to evolve!

          I would be quite surprised if a group of cycling fans discussed their plans before a stage and talked about “going to paint our favorite rider’s name in the asphalt”or whatever…

          • I loved that stage win, too, and I must admit that I expected a great future for Ion – I was even slightly disappointed by his following two seasons, although I was aware that he was still very young. I started to deliver at the right age, indeed, and 2016 was sort of a breakthrough year. I’m happy to see that he hasn’t been squeezed in a gregario role at Bahrain-Merida and he’s been very consistent until now, even if he lacked some serious highlight: a couple of top tens in the Ardennes, which he isn’t hugely suited to, including a notable Liège (and besides a 12th place at the Flèche), and solid GCs at Pa-Ni, País Vasco, Romandie. He really needs a victory, now, possibly a heavy one.

            That Giro also had a memorable Stelvio stage and a generous Purito on display in the fine Pian dei Resinelli stage, too, but not much more. I’d add the hilly Marche stage (the one where Cavendish probably had a good deal of not-so-legal support by a team car… and Phinney rode long alone behind the rest), and Assisi, too, essentially for the scenery. Very little else.

            I’m sorry but I can’t help much about the linguistic question: I think that a lot of the cycling jargon is about elements which have to do with the race and those graffitis aren’t included because most of the times the riders… struggle to actually read them (besides having little effect on the competition, even if, not very often, some rider cites them: the mere presence of the roaring crowd, mainly when the cyclist hears his own name, is cited more often as a boosting factor). Sometimes the athletes are even surprised (and happy) reading their names on a climb… while they’re training, after having failed to notice that during a race.

            However, I’d say that in Italian most people refer to them simply as “scritte” (writings), it’s the context which makes you understand what kind of writings you’re speaking about. You can use it alone, although you might happen to read “scritte per terra” or “scritte sulla strada” or “scritte sull’asfalto”. To describe or plan the action you’d use the simple verb “scrivere” (to write). “Let’s go to the Etna and write something for Nibali”: most people would get it. “The Redoute is packed with Phil writings” etc.

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