Monday Shorts

Gianni Mura

Gianni Mura has died aged 74. He was a legendary sports journalist in Italy and began covering the Tour de France at the age of 21 and was on the race last July too. Mura was sometimes portrayed as a curiosity in recent years for his use of a typewriter which made him look old-fashioned but there was a modern side too. He was one of the first in the pressroom to use a typewriter back in the days when journalists would write their piece in ink and then phone it through to the newspaper. He wrote his columns from the Tour de France last summer on a laptop.

Mura’s writing stood out more than the manner of his typing. Affectionate towards the riders, he was able to evoke literary or poetic ideas when it the moment required and often related a race to the terrain on which it took place, especially the food and he was said to always travel with Michelin guide. He could see the big picture, such as how a rider’s win in a race could matter to a whole nation; and the small details such as the personal traits of riders. He became La Gazzetta Dello Sport’s Giro correspondent but also covered football and the Olympics and joined La Reppublica in 1976 from where he became an institution.


Of course the Olympics will be postponed. The first question is when the announcement comes and this matters because until it’s official athletes can’t stop training, and those confined can’t stop worrying about losing out. But that can’t happen until the bigger question is answered: when are they moved to? The autumn, by one year to 2021 or even 2022? Postponing to, say, October could evoke a scenario that might not be prudent and at this rate even 2021 doesn’t offer certainty. The games are so big it’s not easy to keep shuffling them. There’s a lot to organise, member federations from archery to wrestling might have scheduled events like tournaments, world championships in place for 2021 already that clash and these need rescheduling and so on, and all for every participant sport.


Staying in Japan, there are only so many vintage race re-runs to watch although some suggestions for how to watch old races again is an idea for a blog post in the coming days. If you want to watch cycling of a different kind then the Cycle Around Japan” series from Japanese channel NHK is a good diversion. It’s all in English and episodes stick to a formula where the cyclist presenter visits a region for a few days to ride on the roads and meet locals with more emphasis on travel and touring rather than technicalities but it’s an easygoing distraction.

These are strange times. While news can spread around the planet in seconds, the new coronavirus is taking its time. There’s a dislocation in watching events that first started in Wuhan, then reached Italy, Spain, France and probably where ever you are. There’s been a similar slow change in attitudes, policy responses behaviour. In cycling terms this is obvious on social media where people in different countries display different attitudes to riding. British and American readers might think it’s the right thing to pop out for a ride today; while Italian, French and Spanish readers reply with warnings, not so much of contagion but one of using up healthcare resources in case of an accident. If the situation deteriorates where you live then you may change your mind and become equally “Italian” in the days to come.

Might need a check?

If you do ride and it’s approved by the authorities then copy aviation pilots – who know a thing or two about safety – and give yourself a pre-flight checklist. Nobody sets off planning to crash but it happens and right now nobody wants to be visiting an emergency ward or even a local doctor because of a sports injury. Plenty of us just jump on our bikes assuming it works because it was did last time but these days maybe check it over for a few minutes. Treat your bike like it’s a rental model about to be handed to a client whose day job is litigation lawyer.

Also if you are out on the roads, ride solo. Maybe you live in a flatshare with other cyclists but think about setting an example to others who won’t second-guess your domestic arrangements. That once-habitual gesture of cleaning your nose needs to be thought about too, do it quietly and out of sight, not even with a driver on the road. Also if you feel like a long ride, think of doing loops near home rather than a long raid, that way if you get tired or have a problem you can make it back with less hassle.


Lastly indoor training works. You might see the pros posting 150-300km indoor rides but thankfully 40-60 minutes is good training, especially since indoor riding is so focussed. Your outdoor riding will involve junctions, corners and other micro-moments when you stop pedalling, indoors you can maintain a solid load from start to finish. If you have no trainer you might know someone who does and can come to an arrangement for a rota as long as you and they can both take steps to keep it surgically clean; likewise if you have one, perhaps someone you know would love to use it a couple of times a week too?

23 thoughts on “Monday Shorts”

  1. Not sure about the sharing trainers idea (other than with someone in the same house). If you’re both using it in the same place you’ll be in and out touching door handles and who knows what, probably in a sweaty state. And then there’s the trainer itself that you’ll likely both be touching in order to set up, swap bikes over, etc. Best make sure you’re using plenty of disinfectant wipes if you are doing this.

  2. Or, alternatively, if safe to do so, go out for a run perhaps?
    It’s my first love actually and I do find that running complements cycling quite well.
    Depending on how quickly and intensely you can run (uphill running is excellent btw), 40 minutes can more than suffice.

    • I’d agree. It’s just as intense as an indoor trainer ride, has exposure to sunlight and hence Vitamin D amongst its advantages and I’ve also found helps to resolve some of the aches and pains that I’d picked up from exclusively cycling, by presumably helping to resolve muscle imbalances.

  3. Re olympic games: The one thing nobody talks about is doping. Right now (and for some time) there rightfully won‘t be normal antidoping measures (if any at all). I understand, that people don‘t want to focus on that right now, but it would be a shame, if the games would be made meaningless, a joke and affront to every athlete with ridiculous records and some, who maybe were not tested at all, just because japan and the ioc don’t want to lose more money than they already have.

    Personally I think the only sane and responsible action would be to cancel the 2020 games and restart again with the 2024 games – if we must. But to expect japan and the ioc to do the for once the right and responsible thing is surely and sadly asked too much.

    • I would see postponement to 2022 as being the best option. Hold it in the calendar slot that would normally be filled by the World Cup if it wasn’t being hosted by Qatar.

      The main consideration is that 2021 would clash with the biennial world championships in most sports (cycling is an outlier in having world championships in an Olympic year) but the anti-doping aspect only adds to that.

      • Right, Dave, I agree that 2022 would be a good solution. Enough time for things to settle out, hopefully, to get doping controls back in order, and to plan. 2021 is too early. I remember the days when both summer and winter olympics were held in the same year and it was good.

        • If you’re a property developer who’s in on the deal with Tokyo Games and its athlete village, you wont be wanting a deferment.
          The people who own the Games – whoever they are – will have to come up with cold hard cash to cover lots of large real estate and development items that are the real driver ( ever wondered why it’s a different venue every Games…?) and these all come with a guaranteed commencement, right after the Paralympics closing ceremony.
          Media rights are another big revenue and just getting other sport owners to give away their airtime and calendar slots will not be without cost.
          You can expect the shadows behind the IOC to be a lot less ‘generous’ to each national body, and this could affect some otherwise minority sports in a big way.
          The relief for pro cycling is that it’s not dependent on the Games, indeed they are seen as a distraction by many since the normal structure is not based on national teams.

          • all good reasons why we should all use this opportunity to just dump the Olympics once and for all.

            Used to be a nice idea, but is now totally bloated and taken over by nationalistic and financial concerns.

  4. “Treat your bike like it’s a rental model about to be handed to a client whose day job is litigation lawyer.”

    This is so hilarious 😂. Good thing that our host’s humour persists.

  5. Eurosport is stretching it really thin with the constant re-broadcasts of the Paris-Nice and the few other races that took place already this year. I can recall these races frame by frame in my mind. Brain washing must be similar to this. And yet, I still watch. *_*

    • I’m hoping there are discussions behind the scenes between rights holders and broadcasters to open up the back catalogue as there are some great races which many of us haven’t seen, or can’t recall the result. I’d love to see the classics repeated now, Giro in May, Tour in July etc.

      The BBC broadcast an FA Cup quarter-final from 1993 on Sunday – I don’t support either of the teams and it ended in a draw but it was probably the most exciting game of football I’ve seen all year! Much better than watching a normal PL game.

    • What are we talking when we are talking about Eurosport? I’m fortunate enough to view Eurosport Nordic and on Eurosport 1 we are currently watching Vuelta stage by stage. Although I know the results and remember the gist of the stages I saw at the time, there’s still plenty to discover – and when there isn’t, I can concentrate on m watt, cadence and heartrate readings:-)
      (I’m also fortunate that we are – not yet, anyway – in total confinement and I can go out for long rides – as long as I ride alone or with a few others.)

      PS Spare a thought for those who addicted to betting on sports! Not all of them can be helped simply by telling them to switch to those casino games:-)

  6. We will always have of had Paris Nice! Good job it was a fine race!

    I have really enjoyed the Movistar movie on Netflix a nice insight contrary to the opinions of most cycling journalists

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