The Giro’s New Jerusalem

The Giro’s recent route announcement confirmed the race is returning to Rome, a publicity coup for the mayor Virginia Raggi (pictured). It’s often seemed odd having a national tour that doesn’t visit the nation’s capital, more so given Rome cityscape can provide stunning images. But the ensuing story of the route wasn’t about Rome. As well as the route being presented – more of which soon – one snafu was the use of race graphics mentioning “West Jerusalem” as the start location only for the Israeli government to threaten to pull the funding if this wasn’t promptly changed to “Jerusalem”. And lo it was.

This small spat highlights the ongoing sensitivity over the territorial disputes between Israelis and Palestinians. There are plenty of other places to discuss this and the point is that the Giro’s start is so controversial this blanked out thoughts of the racing on the opening days with more focus on the labels and their political sensitivity than the actual roads.

Ask yourself: do you know what the terrain is like? How are the roads? Will there be crosswinds? Instead so far all we’ve got is cross words over the Israeli–Palestinian. See the way RCS had to change their graphics became a story or listen to The Cycling Podcast’s coverage which featured an Israeli perspective and a Palestinian perspective too. The point here is that politics trumps sport, the story is not the course but the money paid, the rationale for the start and the controversial issues.

Cycle races have long been exercises in territorial dominance. Early editions of the Tour de France were deliberate attempts by the race director Henri Desgrange to define and even defy the Franco-German border. The Ballon d’Alsace mountain was included in 1905, not just for the climbing challenge but because it marked the border with the German empire, the provocative frontier between psychogeography and nationalism. He then challenged the Germans and in 1906, 1907, 1908 and 1910 he sent the Tour into the “occupied” Moselle region. With tensions rising Berlin refused the race entry in Germany for 1911 and Desgrange routed the race right along the Lorraine border. The 1919 Tour de France was launched on the day the Versailles Treaty was signed where France reclaimed land from Germany and the race route included new stage towns like Strasbourg and Metz, back on French soil.

The Giro d’Italia’s own website tells how “the first act of the [1919] Giro was to go to Trieste and Trento, which had been won back from the Austrians. In these two cities, where it was given a triumphant welcome, Costante Giradengo raced by wearing the Champion of Italy jersey with the colours of the Italian flag, bearing the message of reconquered Italy.”

Now just because bike races were instrumentalized for a political, publicity or territorial agenda a century ago doesn’t make it right today but it does show the sport has long been at it. It continues today, whether on a subtle level like the Giro d’Italia threading all of Italy’s regions together – its race manual is called the Garibaldi after the general who unified Italy – or more explicit terms like the Giro’s 2014 start in Belfast where riders pedalled part giant murals depicting balaclava-clad men clutching Kalashnikovs only to show a softer side when the city turned pink.

Perhaps next year’s new Oro y Paz stage race in Colombia will help dispel a few stereotypes too? It doesn’t always work, for example the now defunct Tour of Beijing may have highlighted the significant air pollution concerns rather than the grandeur of the Chinese capital. Now it feels like the Giro is taking this to the next level, partly because of the controversy, partly because of the audience.

Us cycling fans are only a small part of this. While the politics have crowded out discussion about the route – does the wind get up in the afternoon to make Stage 2 potentially risky? – neither these questions about the route and who it might suit nor those debating the politics of the region probably matter to RCS and Israel. Instead what surely counts is a mention on the evening TV news bulletin in Italy and possibly beyond with images of the peloton pedalling and a rider doing a victory salute: exactly what it does in Italy and by implication to show images that are not of intifada, incoming rockets and other scenes that we often associate when Israel is in the news. Only all this makes the race becomes an obvious vehicle for protests or worse where any disturbance could prove more newsworthy than the race itself making this a high stakes start. Already there’s talk of a Plan B for the Giro and this alone is going to be problematic, like saying to holiday makers considering a visit to Israel that they’re most welcome but it’d be prudent to reserve flights and accommodation elsewhere just in case.

Confused? Happy? Angry? Whatever you think of the decision to award the Giro’s “big start” to Israel in return for premium payment it’s not for sporting reasons and so far the announcement has attracted commentary rather than interest. Those following sport or politics may have views on the decision but few in Italy and beyond will have noticed where the race is going at the moment, let alone think about consequences. Instead the real point is reaching the mass market and beaming back familiar imagery of a bike race as a means to promote the country. Cycling has long been used for this but the Giro’s venture feels like a step beyond anything seen in recent times.

65 thoughts on “The Giro’s New Jerusalem”

  1. A quick opening comment. First a request please not to turn this into an Israel vs Palestine “debate” as there’s enough of that already and no readers are going to solve this, change opinions or learn much from the comments of a niche sports blog: the topic is about how we’re not the intended audience anyway.

    Also this topic may seem a bit stale but having been away for two weeks with little internet coverage there are subjects to cover and hopefully more on the actual Giro route soon and the efforts the race has to go to in order to build an attractive startlist.

  2. Apparantly Froome will take part. Tom Dumoulin will announce Giro or Tour only in January. Maybe he should aim for the Tour, as since Pantani the Giro Tour double seems to be hard to do.

    • I think Dumoulin would be mad to do the Giro and I think he, like most of the top riders who might have done the Giro (e.g. Nibali), will focus on the Tour, seeing this as the ideal opportunity to win it. Aru and Landa seem Giro-bound, but I think there will be few others.

  3. Hi I’m just a fan of cycling all I can say is that cycling has the ability to unite everyone because of the Bicycle is a truly universal thing I just hope that this is a success I love the Giro the 2018 race will be amazing but we are in real testing times right now around the world that’s all I want to say right now thankyou

  4. Perhaps we should not expend too much energy discussing the Jerusalem start at this stage. The events of the past few days have turned the status of the city into a burning issue again. RCS may well have to concede that the conditions under which it contracted the stages no longer obtain, either because the event will have become intolerably politicised or out of concern for the safety of the riders.

    • The US’ move seems to have ramped things up considerably.
      I could even imagine that the Arab teams may come under pressure to pull out; Trump’s move certainly makes it difficult for them to what could effectively be seen as giving legitimacy to the situation?

      • I bet RCS were holding their heads in their hands when Trump waded into the situation.

        I’m certainly no expert on the situation, but it seems that the day-to-day circumstances and stability in Jerusalem could take a major turn for the worse in the next 4 months, so I hope they have a contingency plan.

  5. Seems the logical conclusion of the who-bids-highest model of Grande Partenze – going places that bid high because they want to be in the news for a different reason than the usual.
    What do riders think about this? I’m sure the peloton is very heterogenous politically, and this is a subject that often attracts boycotts and strong feelings. Will riders consider weighing in, or are the career stakes too high for them?

    • Obviously this is a huge generalisation, but most riders, as with their colleagues in other sports, don’t focus much on the world and its issues. Plus, when you add the natural sense of invicibility of most athletes, I bet that for the most part, there is very little apprehension from the riders. They want to ride their bikes for money. I think cyclists’ feel this way even more than other athletes.

    • Heyooo! haha. Good stuff, Trump the chump has jumped on this issue.

      Honestly, as Inrng mentioned that the Tour of Beijing’s net effect was to highlight the massive pollution issues rather than the greatness of that city, I think this race will have similar effects and should be preemptively moved. It’s in everyone’s interests to make this Giro a great event, and they are risking way too much with Trump stoking the fires and the corresponding political turmoil. There has been zero talk or focus on the beauty of Jerusalem or encouraging people to travel here, so let’s make an executive decision before this becomes a disaster.

      The 2018 Giro has a massive opportunity for greatness where the only thing the route has to do is not suck. For the first time in anyone’s memory, the athlete who’s considered by most fans to be the current GC champ (Froome, obviously) will be at the start. This is a massive sporting, advertising and exposure opportunity and the ONLY thing that could mess it up is Donald Trump’s ugly orange face tweeting about anything to do with the region of the grande partenza. This is the year for a boring, yet beautiful start because the riders will sell the race, rather than a unique course. Let’s do the start over the border in Austria, next year let’s do the start on the moon.

      • Short memory, both if you meant to refer to Froome only (but I say this tongue in cheek) *and* if you referred to any “athlete considered etc”.
        Contador 2008 (and 2011), Basso 2006, Pantani 1999, Indurain 1992… and that’s just keeping the limit within personal memories. I could even say Wiggins 2013 but we all know that it would be a joke.
        Except Lance, pretty much *anyone* who enjoyed that sort of “title” had a shot at the Giro at that same time, including figures which could be subject to debate because of their emergence in transition times like Nibali, Sastre or Zülle. Ullrich could be another exception, given that he tried the Giro but, when he did, Lance was already the big name in town.
        Froome is doing something really great in distancing himself from the historical profile he risked to end up trapped within.

        • You named 4 men, in 5 races in the past 30 years where the one of the top GC riders lined up to start the race… that’s proving my point, not yours’. It’s not exactly proof that the Giro attracts the top GC field.

          • You can do better. The definition, as I understood it (*the* champ), applies only to a handful of riders and pretty much *all* of them rode the Giro, bar Lance. If I was to include second spears, the list would be way more extended. And probably even more favourable for the Giro in years like 2017.
            But that wasn’t the point. Besides you wrote something like “for the first time in anyone’s memory” which has got a very precise meaning.

            That said (which would be more than enough to close the debate), as you could easily have noticed – Indurain anyone? – I didn’t list for each rider all the times he took part, only the cases which could be especially significant.

            I only listed two for Contador precisely because 2008 was peculiar. You can take 2015 if you want, the year before he had impressed much more than Froome and not everybody will just accept that Nibali was the top 2014 rider… But truth is that you don’t have to watch stats about Contador, just have a look to what he recently said on the Giro, once free from the need to make sponsors happy (he had said the same in the past, but now it’s even clearer).

            It’s obvious that the Giro has got between a third and 40% the economic volume of the Tour, and the consequences are just as obvious.
            Even so, few GC champions of the past allowed themselves to avoid the Giro. It’s just a Lance thing. It’s not by pure chance that the Giro’s darkest years in terms of startlist were 2000-2005, followed by an inevitably gradual improvement, with a couple of clear steps after 2008 and after 2012 (we’ll see if 2017 will be another landmark or just an episode).

        • Also, you can take Contador out of that list, he only started the Giro because he was excluded from the Tour in 2008 and in 2011 he expected to be suspended from the Tour, so he rode the Giro.

          Basically, you’ve proven my point, the Giro was only used as a sloppy second choice.

          Froome is saying this year, “I’m the reigning champ for the Tour and considered the best GC rider in the world, yet I’m going to risk not winning my 5th TdF by trying the Giro-Tour double, instead.” That’s pretty significant.

          • If ^ that and ^ that was your point, why on earth did you explicitly write that the massive opportunity for greatness lies in the fact that the current GC champ will be at the start “for the first time in anyone’s memory”? And you even put those words in the beginning of the sentence, which put an emphasis on that alleged fact (at least in my admittedly non-native ears)!

            Unless it was an unfortunate accident, a half-thoughtless slip you didn’t really mean, you then proceeded to “move the goalposts” a bit in your reply, which certainly makes any discussion less enjoyable to follow or participate in.

  6. What an odd choice for the Giro’s start. Why wade into such troubled waters? Who initiated such talks–the Israel Cycling Academy? Didn’t know a Pro Conti team could carry such clout with both the RSO and the UCI. To the casual observer, it definitely looks like pro cycling is taking sides on this very sensitive and volatile issue. Makes me question the wisdom of the person(s) making such decisions.

    • It’s unlikely that the “Israel Cycling Academy” team is behind this, rather the other way around: The same strategy of promoting a more “normal” Israel is behind both that team and this. There seems to be some government funding plan behind it (Israel tourism board is part sponsor of the cycling team), plus a rich guy (main sponsor of the cycling team, initiator of the Giro deal).

      I guess they will judge the success of their strategy based on some perception of how much they think people actually see “normalization” in Israel, and on the contrary how much it will just lead to highlighting and discussing the terrible state of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

      Personally I don’t see much “unification through sport” happening here.

      • Perhaps if Jerusalem could produce a band as good as Belfast’s “The Undertones” we might feel a tad easier about the decision. Their 1981 single ‘It’s Going to Happen’ was about the inevitability of the troubles at the time and, coincidentally (I think), was released on the day that Booby Sands died from his hunger strike in the Maze prison –

  7. It feels like an odd and yet unsurprising choice all at the same time. I do wonder what the field will be like given the recent US developments… is the peleton a target? is a question I would have hoped never to ask seriously.

  8. The Tour 0f Beijing also highlighted what it’s like to live in a totalitarian state – with no people seemingly allowed on the route.
    Where one draws the line on which countries are suitable for racing, in ethical terms, will be different for different people, but I’m against the Giro racing in an apartheid state, same as I am about the WorldTour visiting China, same as I would be about a race in Saudi Arabia – and I already don’t watch the races in other totalitarian Arab states and wish Bahrain-Merida all the failure in the world.
    The western media is fundamental in its bias in favour of Israel and that sways the views of many, who don’t read further on the subject.

    • Well said, I might add that cycling is unfortunately desperate for cash on many fronts, and is always blinded when a billionaire waves a cheque book.

      I’d rather see the sport scale itself back to live comfortably within it’s means so they aren’t tempted to jump off a bridge for the highest bidder.

  9. This reads a little like a plea to discuss the race rather than the extraneous politics it has become embroiled in. but it’s definitely an important aspect of next year’s Giro – the question of ‘sportswashing’ is very current.

    in this case it is a very emotive topic and treating it with any logic of objectivity seems to be difficult for most. but i have some thoughts which i hope are dispassionate. there has been a fairly big marketing campaign, in the UK, by the israeli tourist board recently and you could say the Giro is an extension of this. the world runs on marketing campaigns (tourist boards, political campaigns, hard to tell the difference).

    you cannot argue that the Giro visiting israel is not an endorsement of the country as a place to visit – the RCS is part of this marketing campaign. as J Evans says, who is for to decide whether this is ethical? a lot of sports withdrew from South Africa in the 70s and 80s (some belatedly…F1) so it’s not as though it is without precedent for sports to take political stances. could the same happen in israel? there are some fundamental differences: first, this is not a long term venue for cycling – it would be the first major race (i think) ever to take place there. by contrast, South Africa had long traditions in a number of sports which meant that boycotting those events had some political gravitas about it. the grande partenza in jerusalem has no history to it, so would not carry so much meaning, were it to be cancelled now. secondly, and this goes back to the emotive part, israels humanitarian record is much debated (to say the least) so there is no general consensus they are an evil regime (contrasting South Africa, which was, eventually, almost universally condemned).

    fans of F1 will be familiar with the argument that the sport should not be legitimising questionable governments (Bahrain, China, Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan have all been subject to protests of varying vehemence) yet it is hard to argue against racing in those countries, while giving a free pass to western countries with similarly dodgy human rights records depending on your perspective.

    in conclusion, it’s tricky.

  10. Money talks, end of. If the Taliban were oil rich they’d do a ‘Grande Partenza’ along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Its the way of the world, however distasteful and vulgar we may find it.

    • Yes, all about the cash – and the fact that RCS’ fortunes have sunk so low that this money-grab was attractive enough to toss aside all the issues against this silly adventure and jump in with both feet.
      How ironic the “Donald Trump of Israel” talks them into this folly and now the original Donald Trump (and lets not even go into his great bike racing folly) has stuck a pump in the spokes big-time? I hope RCS has done (or will do) some serious work on Plan B.

      • Larry, RCS’ fortunes have been decidedly on the rise during the last couple of years… (and RCS Sport was always in great health, at least from a monetary POV).
        I’m afraid that it’s a “the more you have the more you want” case.
        Let’s hope for Italian’s cycling’s sake that such a move doesn’t spectacularly backfire as it looks likely (same goes for course tilting in order to lure Froome in – when it’s obviously all about the fee).

        • Based on the generally pathetic level (and revolving door) of Giro sponsors scraped up over the past few seasons I wonder about any claim that RCS Sport has always been in great health. Rumors have gone on for many years that only the money RAI puts in keeps La Corsa Rosa from a fire sale to ASO.
          I’m on the wait-and-see list as to setting up a course for Froome – it would have to go a long way to be as bad as the neutered joke they created for BigTex back-in-the-day!

          • Lots of reports that Froome has pocketed an appearance fee, possibly up to 2 million Euros, for racing the Giro with the suggestion this money came from the Jerusalem Partenza backers rather than RCS (allowing RCS to say “we don’t pay appearance fees”?). Apparently any such fees now have to be declared to the UCI, though whether they report it publicly is another matter.

          • Giro sponsors aren’t that bad nor that changing. Mediolanum, whether I like it or not (and I don’t) is a long term, rather big sponsor. Enel is a huge sponsor.

            However, the books talk, and RCS Sport was one of the better assets of RCS (that’s probably why somebody was used to grab cash from there…); but you shouldn’t forget, either, that the whole RCS Mediagroup is bigger than ASO and also than EPA… but also “RCS Sport” is apparently bigger than ASO in terms of revenue.
            It’s “just” the Giro which is smaller than the Tour, but that’s an internal decision of the company.
            By the way, RCS general woes weren’t due to any problem with the business model but to a speculative operation in Spain which was forced by “political” powers (not as in “political parties”); it wasn’t a business decision at all: a CEO lost his head for refusing to endorse it and the workers went on strike again and again but to no result. It was a King Montezuma – late Botín affair.

            It’s absolutely true that national TV rights are one of the biggest incomes for the Giro, probably even as high as around a half of the *race* budget, but you should take into account that ASO’s TV rights are about a third of their total revenue (according to what Daam Van Reeth reported here less than two months ago). If ASO suddenly lost its TV rights (in a nonsense world), it’s not like “the Giro” could buy the race… but RCS Sport probably could.

            Anyway, I’m not a specialist… maybe I got something wrong along the way.

          • The course they set for Lance was quite similar, indeed!

            2009 had several *very* good hilly and especially “middle mountain” stages but it lacked just one more serious uphill finish, when compared to next year; while perhaps the sprinter stages were a bit more obvious than they will in 2018.
            2018 is also better in being third-week heavy, unlike 2009; OTOH, 2009 had a beautiful and very technical ITT, with an excellent balance of pure power and climbing skills.
            Both courses share a certain love for monoclimb stages and are a little “easier” than the typical Giro. However, both are surely way better than 2017, as far as the course is concerned.

            We’ll see if spoiling the course will be as useless in 2018 as it was in 2017, now for very different reasons and not as depending on Froome’s and Sky’s willing decisions…

  11. Given the number of rumors that the Giro was going to the US, or Japan or the UAE when they announced Israel i was rather surprised. Was far from the front of my mind when it comes to globalisation of cycling in terms of money, potential audience or riders. The political aspect didn’t enter my thoughts until the row over compass directions.

    Sport has always seemed to operate in its own little world. The men in charge have always taken small pride in pushing their own little viewpoints (a la Desgrange highlighted in the article), but in only a very limited number of cases has sport as a whole tackled politics. I can only really think of boycotts against South Africa and Mozambique (although i’m sure others would jump in with more examples).

    If North Korea can still take part in World Cups and Olympic games. If the World Cup can go to Qatar amongst the flood of accustations on bribery and slave labour. If F1 can hold a race in Bahrain litteraly in the midst of an attempted uprising. Then the Giro can go to Jerusalem.

    Thats the decision, for right or wrong. I’m hoping it all works out ok and that we get a real spectable of sport untroubled by anything. That’s what i care about as a fan, because i really don’t know enough about the situation and i can’t do anything about it.

  12. it seemed like a lot of risk for the RCS…. if they have to pull it and lose the money, will they be still able to afford Froome? (oh sorry apparently he isn’t being paid….). Trump has being going on about the Embassy issue for a while, so it was always a possibility…
    well, if the IOC and FIFA don’t give a monkeys about human rights etc, why should we expect the RCS/UCI too I suppose.

    • I would hope that RCS were smart enough to include in the contract that they still get paid the depart fee money if the event has to be moved for some reason. If not, they deserve the lose the money.

  13. Last year there was this story about the fastest descent and RCS had to go back because of the safety of the cyclists. But isn’t there a problem of safety here as well ? It’s very complicated for the CPA to make this point, because it’s very political even to say there can be risks… I hope nothing bad happen anyway, but RCS is really making lots of silly decisions for money (from Gazprom to this – how can it be be good for italian cyclism and for cyclism in general ?).

  14. Inrng, you brought up an interesting debate, and after going through the responses on the forum, I realised the following:

    This entire debate has turned me off the 2018 Giro start so much that I refuse to read anymore articles about the start and I’m going to tune the Giro out until it returns to Italy.

    I dread that every article in the next 5 months will be about the politics of this move, and therefore I’m already sick of hearing about it. Cycling is an escape for me, to hear about beautiful places I want to visit and riders’ massive efforts to crush their opponents. I have zero interest in reading this debate over and over again from now until May… Inrng, you have strong connections in the sport, please show the powers that be my viewpoint and hopefully RCS will realise that they risk turning fans off forever. Nothing good will come from this grande partenza in the long run!!!

  15. I was interested to hear the organizers had a ‘plan B’ if things occurred outside of their control.

    However my question is do grand tour organizers always have a plan B or is this an exception. In my mind a plan B should always be in place?

    • It isn’t easy at all to have a plan B for every situation (hosting fees revenues are relevant, organisation of road closures is impressive). However, the Giro always has had “plans B” in the pocket, albeit disappointing from a sporting POV, for many situations which they envisaged as potentially troublesome, typically re: high altitude and bad weather.

  16. It doesn’t seem good that the Tour/Giro/Ronde of (insert country of choice) has more and more stages outside that named country. These are today more regional World Tour races, and as such should be renamed if the sport is to “unite” anyone and/or their hosting money. Then the race organizer companies could better downplay the politics and simply chase that lovely money all around the world.

  17. You mention the Oro y Paz race in Colombia and the hope it will dispel stereotypes … I hope so too!

    As I’m sure anyone who’s seen an interview with their riders will agree, the Colombians are tremendously proud of their wonderful country.

    Both the riders and fans are super-excited that there will be a 2:1 race that the top riders can enter.

    Quintana brothers, Rigo, Gaviria, Henao cousins, Betancur, Anacona … it’s going to be a great early season race.

    It’s an example of $$$ being put into an event for all the right reasons.

  18. What did the Romans ever do for us?

    It is absurd that the Giro d’Italia should start in Jerusalem or in Belfast or anywhere else other than in Italia.

    I bet ‘festival d’arancia’ still translates as something different in Norn Iron. And I am sure that a shift from Strangozzi al Tartufo Nero or, say, Tonnarelli alle ouva di Riccio to the incredible range of lard based products wrapped in pastry or stuck in a bap that they have in Belfast went down, and came up again, pretty well with the organizers in 2014.

    Likewise, the Tour de France starting in Leeds. -A place that has of course always been full of fellows wearing berets and stripey jerseys chewing onions. It has a dead sheep as its coat of arms. But I’ll leave that to the Bloke from Bury to explain.

    It’s Monty Python stuff really. (vide Life of Brian Cookson.) Blimey, the world’s a confusing enough place besides not knowing where the hell you are.

    Also, perhaps it sends a message that cycling is failing, and not strong enough to support interest in a complete grand tour in the chosen country of origin, for it to have to cast around like this.

    Cycling is about tradition; riders are drawn into it by the romance of its tradition. By all means begin new traditions but I think it better at least try to make them coherent and self-contained and leave the established traditions alone.

    • I guess the raging mob – which includes me – is waiting for the post inrng promised through the twitter feed.
      What everybody will be raging against is a different matter, though (for example, I’m especially worried by what could be next, like shortening Giro and Vuelta to two weeks; or kicking Moscon out of the sport without a fair trial, or at least a trial by combat…).

      Anyway, I loved the Anon comment above about road taxes. Many cyclists don’t even pay an auto insurance for riding on their bikes, so that when there’s a crash and your car is damaged, they won’t even pay a penny (they’re poor, or they wouldn’t be riding a bicycle but at least a motorbike, or a bicycle with a motor, believe me). And they slow down traffic.

      If anyone needs to see again the bright side of cycling, I suggest this piece about Sacha Modolo’s recent misfortunes:

      • Apparently Modolo was standing at a stoplight waiting for the light to turn green when he was hit from behind by a car. Fortunately, he only suffered a minor blow in the back (and, presumably, some damage to his bike) and a long training ride was replaced by a rather frustrating series of telephone calls to various police departments (and, later, a medical checkup t be on the safe side) before a squad car came over.
        The driver had calmly opened the window and commented “It’s only a bike and nothing happened, what do you want?” and driven off (but not before dropping off his passenger who seems to have been what is nicely called “an escort”). The police was able to identify him because Molodo had had the presence of mind to photograph the car and the register plate. Molodo is going to press charges against the driver.

        (In a quite similar incident in my hometown, the driver proceeded to back up and then run over the bike. In court he boldy accused the cyclist of “needlessly and suddenly stopping without warning” and then “attacking his car with a heavy metal object” so that he had no other option but to flee. Unfortunately for him, there was a traffic surveillance camera in immediate vicinity and the incident was captured in clear detail on video.
        The joke is that the driver – who was a taxi driver by profession – only received a penalty of 60 so called “day-fines” which, in practise, amounted to about half of his monthly net earnings. Neither his driving licence nor his taxi permit was put on probation.
        The commentary section of the news article was rife with comments about mad cyclists who do not pay roadtax…)

        PS In the Nordic countries the Froome case has drawn out immediate and obvious comparisons with the Martin Johnsrud Sundby case. Those more deeply interested can easily find the CAS ruling and discussion about it, but in a nutshell Sundby lost a number of his World Cup wins and served a penalty of a few months. The Norwegian federation and its medical section took the blame for their interpretation of the rules and what was allowed under the TUE, but also argued that doctors and medical researchers don’t consider the use of the salbutamol to be performance-enhancing. “They have concluded that salbutamol is not ergogenic for athletes who are not experiencing constricted airways through asthma or exercise-induced bronchiospasm. The net effect for anyone whom does not have [exercise-induced bronchiospasm] is negligible: you can’t relax smooth muscle in the airway if it has not been contracted.”

  19. Just another detail which isn’t OT: Sky knew of the positive test on September 20, and they probably also knew that the B sample was going to be positive, too, since they were aware of what they did.
    I wonder if they already got the cash for Froome’s appearance fee… did they cashed it in knowing already that Froome is risking to be out in May?
    Like, “hey, bad luck, we’ll lose some months of racing, let’s see if we can take some comfort by grabbing those 2 M they’ve been offering us recently”.
    Besides, since it’s gray territory, it’s probable that any contract on the subject (if any) is quite blurred. Good luck Israel if you paid and now want your money back.
    And… would that mean that we’re moving even faster towards an all-Italian Giro?

    • I think the Guardian (a poor newspaper) is a little excited. But surely Froome has been fairly tested and both A & B samples undisputed. The argument will be a matter of physiology – an individual’s rates of metabolizing the drug, no doubt. Gabriele is right that it would have been fraudulent had Sky agreed appearance fees without disclosing adverse findings had they known about them during negotiations.

      • French national teams doctor states that 1000 limit corresponds to around 16 inhalations (which must be very approximate, and at what rate does is it eliminated?). By extrapolation Froome’s level suggests around 32! Must be a lot of GC riders reevaluating GC choices for 2018 now.

  20. It’s a weird one certainly it’s felt for some time there was motive for a start in Israel, certainly there seems to have been a really constant spend on advertising in the UK particularly on Eurosport (The Home of Cycling-except when there’s Tennis on…).
    I can’t say that I was particularly delighted by the choice of start but I’m not managing RCS and I guess the cash must have been incredibly significant to make the risk worthwhile.
    I’m increasingly curious about how tenuous/greedy pro-cycling is to make choices that are potentially this risky?

    • Those ‘visit Jerusalem/Tel Aviv’ ads are very prominent on the Dutch Eurosport too. Well, at least cycling seems to the one thing the Arab nations and Israel agree on.

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