Many are wondering whether Froome will take to the start of the Giro d’Italia. Will there be umbrella girls on the startline too? The race employs women on the start line to hold umbrellas over the leaders of each jersey competition. Formula 1 has just announced it will stop using “grid girls”.
We’ll see, you and I may wonder at the purpose of ombrelline but the Giro’s prime audience is rural Italy so maybe RCS won’t rush, especially as a glance at the content of host broadcaster RAI says the Giro is nothing exceptional. Still beyond the Giro “podium girls” could go too, especially the ones employed to wear skimpy outfits and kiss the riders and do little else beyond. There will still be a need for people on the podium for the ceremony of handing over jerseys and prizes and many races already manage, the Tour Down Under uses local junior riders who greet the riders who are more usually hanging as posters on their bedroom wall and some races use local costumes for that rural touch.
As for the startlist, the Corriere newspaper reported Froome could settle for a short ban. Normally the writer is well-informed but in a few hours Chris Froome tweeted a denial, although the interval was long enough for several news sites to relay the story. All for nothing? Not quite because if he was quick to slap down this story L’Equipe’s previous story about Froome exploring a “kidney malfunction” wasn’t denounced and it seems this remains part of his defence.
Newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport weighs in with their columnist Pier Bergonzi calling on the UCI President David Lappartient to “intervene heavily” but for good or bad it’s not the President’s remit to intervene in doping cases any more. The case rumbles on with the likes of Giro boss Mauro Vegni increasingly worried a verdict could fall just ahead of, or even during, his race. During would be terrible, to see a rider extracted from the race like a toy bear by a claw crane is bad enough, to have a GC contender linked to a substantial appearance fee is worse. Even if it happens before it’s problematic as the race and media don’t know whether to hype up Froome’s participation. Is he an asset or a liability to the Giro now?
Sans Froome: ironically without Froome the Giro’s startlist is better than ever and in his absence the race could be very close. Only this week Thibaut Pinot has confirmed he will ride again and it now means the startlist includes Tom Dumoulin, Fabio Aru, Miguel Angel Lopez, Rohan Dennis, Louis Meintjes, Michael Woods, Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves among others.
Costa Pobre: 12 riders have been provisionally suspended following tests for banned blood boosters CERA and EPO in the Tour of Costa Rica. It’s astonishing, it’s tragic and it shows the different systems in place with these lesser races having fewer controls and almost no Whereabouts testing and bio passports. The World Tour isn’t perfect, nobody said it is – see Samuel Sanchez and André Cardoso both still provisionally suspended – but it does bring more regulation in terms of the regularity and depth of testing.
Have you seen the poster for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne? You have now and this is the whole point. The race takes place on the Sunday after the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and suffers for this, it’s not such an attractive race and is sometimes a revenge event for those who missed out in the Omloop. So it needs all the publicity it can get to ensure people tune in. Art buffs will know the poster as derivative of Napoleon’s crossing of the Alps, depicting the French emperor riding over the Grand Saint Bernard pass.
Trek-Segafredo are already on five wins this season. They had 20 last year in total so a quarter of this by January is good going. One of those last year was John Degenkolb who landed in a win the Dubai Tour and then nothing else but he’s on two already this year after winning two rounds of the Trofeo Mallorca (pictured: via the team press release). If you’re a German speaker then cyclingmagazine.de has a lesenswirt interview with the Frankfurter.
Trek-Segafredo are a team that’s increased in size and the chart above is a follow-up to last year’s post to shows the change in team sizes between 2017 and 2018. For all the talk of a shrinking peloton last autumn team sizes are down by an average of 0.9 riders and to stress again the move to shrink team sizes by one rider is a factor but so is the budgetary position of some teams, notably BMC Racing for whom there’s no news if they’ll continue in 2019.
1989 Thanks: finally many thanks to readers who have emailed in resources about the 1989 Tour de France. Hopefully I’ve replied with personal thanks but on top here is a general thanks for the helpful responses and to say I’ve got a massive amount of media from the time and happy to share too. It was a fascinating edition of the race, obviously for the eight seconds difference between the winner Greg LeMond and second place Laurent Fignon and this after they swapped the race lead several times in the mountains. The more you look there’s so much more going on in the race and the sport as a whole during the 1989 season too, hopefully more this soon.