Highlights of 2022 – Part II

The second of the year’s highlights is Stage 14 from the Giro d’Italia, a circuit race on the edge of Turin that featured the climb of the Superga.

The Superga-Maddalena circuit promised plenty, the question was whether the GC contenders could be persuaded to race it hard? Bora-hansgrohe supplied the answer. After a flurry of attacks sparked by Mathieu van der Poel, the day’s breakaway had taken a two minute lead. But as soon as the race reached the first of the three laps of the Superga circuit, the German team hit the front of the peloton and shredded the field. The likes of Alejandro Valverde and Guillaume Martin missed the split and were forced into a long and fruitless chase.

In no time the front group was down to twelve, four of them from Bora-hansgrohe thanks to Ben Zwiehoff dropping back from the break and Wilco Kelderman digging deep on the front. Bahrain had two in Landa and Bilbao, Intermarché in Pozzovivo and Hirt. Carapaz was there, but without a team mate. Lopez was there with his maglia rosa, Nibali rolling back the years as well. Almeida was just with them too at times, but that’s his yo-yo style.

Carapaz took off solo with 28km to go on the Superga climb and quickly got 20 seconds but he struggled to get to 30 as Buchmann and Bilbao chased on behalf of their leaders. Onto the final climb of the Maddalena, a narrow back road, and Nibali attacked and only Hindley could follow, the move shattered the group behind, or was it just the slope and the heat? The pair closed down Carapaz and over the false flat across the top Yates got across. Yates attacked on the last rise to go clear, a powerful move but being well down on GC, the others could concede the stage win as long as they kept their GC rivals. Carapaz took the maglia rosa, Hindley took time and Nibali took plenty of applause.

Why the highlight?
Another day of non-stop action but with more to it. We had Van der Poel provoke an early move, then the GC teams took over with Bora-hansgrohe shredding the field and this medium mountain stage became a major GC day. While the major contenders were trading blows there was a frantic chase behind to get back on, this was a day when the action was happening in front of Motos 1,2,3 and 4.

With hindsight?
As good as the Giro got, there were some good breakaway battles but it took time for the “fight for pink” to start with Juan-Pedro Lopez enjoying a creditable spell in the maglia rosa but he always felt like a clothes horse while the GC contenders bided their time. Alas this stage’s action wasn’t repeated with the same intensity in the Alps, the remaining stages not offering the GC contest we’d hope for, each passing day upheld the status quo when ideally things would be turned upside down daily. Of course we can want to be confounded but it doesn’t mean we get it, and it took the last climb of the last mountain stage for Jai Hindley to get his breakthrough win. Tellingly here in Torino Richard Carapaz attacked and got clear and usually once he’s away he’s gone for good, but he was brought back because other teams had strength when Ineos did not and this helped keep the race so tight. Then when Vincenzo Nibali attacked only Jai Hindley could follow, a big clue to his form and also Bora-hansgrohe had been all over this stage while Ineos were on the back foot, it was hard to extrapolate too much from all this at the time but now perhaps we can read more into it.

There’s also a structural consideration here as the grand tours tend to feature point-to-point stages but the Giro and other races are featuring more and more circuit races and done right, by including climbs for launchpads and twisting roads to thwart a peloton chase, they can be entertaining.

Highlights of 2022 – Part I

32 thoughts on “Highlights of 2022 – Part II”

  1. Two highlights with MvdP attacking from the beginning… This, the Napoli stage, the stage of last year TdF heading to Le Creusot with also a Carapaz attack, tend to prove that when Mathieu attacks early, there’s a good chance the stage becomes crazy.
    On a completely different note, do you think this means that the Roubaix team is in danger ? https://www.lefigaro.fr/societes/l-entreprise-go-sport-saura-mercredi-si-elle-est-placee-en-cessation-de-paiements-20221219
    I heard nothing about this subject on cycling sites, but this is pretty serious : Camaieu had shops in every little town of France, and they’re all closed now.

  2. I remember i had a few thoughts at the conclusion of this stage.
    The carapaz move was strange. I wanted Hindley to win the giro over Carapaz and if Carapaz had got someone else to go with him it may have been worth it but the entire time he was away i was not at all worried the situation. For a rider that is an expert and waiting until the last moment to attack it was strange to see him go so long when Hindley still had teamates. I actually left this stage thinking Hindley was looking the best even though Carapaz made a strong attack.
    MVDP my favourite rider but i feel he does to much and actually costs himself he chance of a spectacular result. Coming to the end of the Giro he went on the attack almost every day mostly for no real chance of success, At the time he was blowing his energy to the wind and perhaps this cost him chances not only in the Giro but in the tdf. As a big fan i note he has not done many 3 week tours and he probably needs some patience just to just except that some stages for him have to be dead boring where he does nothing but get to the end.

    • I’d rather MvdP didn’t ride 3 week GT’s; you’re never going to see the best of him – he’s just not that type of rider. Even one week stage races probably don’t suit him, but there are less stages which don’t suit him. I think it’s partly boredom, and he takes off…..

      That’s why I still think his best year as an ‘all round’ cyclist was 2019; CX Worlds, Spring classics, MTB World Cups & European Championship, Tour of Britain, followed by the 19/20 CX season.

  3. Nibali did better then expected and Bora got it about right. Good TV viewing but Carapaz went too early. The weakness of Ineos was unexpected, but kudos to Hindley for staying in there until the final mountain stage. Carapaz had one bad day (and he seemed off the whole stage) and lost the Giro.

  4. I was in Turin for this; my first ever day watching the Giro. Amazing atmosphere in the city; sustained by the fact that the racing was there for hours instead of just briefly at the start, passing through or at the finish. From this small sample size, circuit stages in big towns or cities work well (provided the terrain nearby is interesting).

  5. Can’t find an example right now, but there were stages in this year’s GTs where the finishing loops were only just big enough for the tail of the main bunch not to get lapped. It’s a good feature to have these loops but what would happen in this case of leaders lapping the grupetto where GC times are needed?

    • There are rules on the distance of the circuit, it has to be long enough eg 10km so that riders shouldn’t normally be lapped unless they’re so far down on the day that they’d be eliminated from the race anyway. But if lapped normally they’d be asked to move aside or even stopped and then can carry on with their finish line time counting.

      • 10km circuits should see lap times easily inside 15 minutes in a WT race if they don’t have a major climb, while the time cut would often be quite a bit longer than that.

        And then there’s the shorter circuits permitted for the final stage.

        Ideally the lapped riders would be able to complete the full course if they are still within the time limits outlined in the race’s supplementary regulations. But for the times when things go wrong and a badly delayed group has their progress disrupted, always an option to have a previous time check to go back to if there is any disruption to their progress.

  6. One of the quite few well-designed stages in a Giro that, as a negative exception to its usually high standards, looked from scratch poorly designed. Though, this was really great, and it delivered (unlike some other promising routes at the same 2022 Giro which just didn’t, like Diamante, Lavarone or Castelmonte).

    Class pick by inrng, I nearly had forgotten it because of the general disappointment about the race as a whole, but it was actually an impressive and memorable (!) day of racing, just as, on a way smaller scale (no GC…) Napoli or Jesi. But it’s normally the TDF the one with a great stage, a couple of good ones and lots of “meh!”, whereas a proper Giro should offer great racing in at least half of the stages (2021 more or less abode by this rule, 2020 not as much but still had half a dozen good stages including two *huge* ones). Enter 2023…

  7. I tried to rewatch this on GCN but the quality of broadcast was horrible. Flickering images all the time despite of good weather
    These Giro organizers:they should change this. Every b race has a better images quality

    • Yeah, but this year it was the same company and tech (including tech staff) that makes the TDF, so the aim of your complaint doesn’t make much sense; maybe it’s partly due to terrain, and harder to sort out than other easier aspects (which, for sure, were not being duly taken care of in the recent past).
      The director’s work was really lacking, by the way, and that was hugely better with the good old Nazareno Balani, but the man’s got the right to retire after more than two decades, I guess… a pity that the generational shift didn’t work as well as among (international) cycling athletes.

      • The same company does not necessarily mean the same (amount of) staff, or the same (amount of) resources.

        E.g. to get a good signal at all times, especially in mountainous areas, you’ll need several relay planes and possibly some sub-relay helicopters all in the right places at the right time. Obviously it’s also easier to get that right in places you’ve worked several times before compared to new locations.

        • Of course, but you’d need the details of the contract, and to know if the company is also interested in looking good with a decent result in their first year or not. Actually, my general (epidermic and probably wrong) impression was that all in all they’d better stick with RAI.

          • The way I understood it the means of filming are from Euromedia, eg the helicopter and aerial links, the technology that make the images work even when its raining etc. But the direction, like the commentary, remains with RAI.

          • The live production/direction of the official race feed and the broadcast production/direction (including the commentary) would be 2 separate teams within RAI then though.

            Live feeds of all cameras {Euromedia?} → live feed production (lead by the live director) choosing what is shown of the race {RAI?} → broadcast production (including commentary, maybe splicing in some interviews that were made earlier, etc.) {your local broadcaster; RAI in Italy}

          • @JanC
            There was interaction, though, e.g. as in RAI commenters asking live to director or even camera operators (including heli) to please try to see/show this or that (where’s a rider, who’s pulling peloton etc.). Especially when Cassani was the commenter. That worked very well.

            By the way, speaking of Cassani, he had a role in designing the TDF Italian GD 2024 and the course looks great.

          • Yes, that’s the advantage of being the host broadcaster (also happens sometimes when it’s e.g. Sporza in Belgian races), although I would expect/hope it’s the live director who ultimately instructs the camera people (the commentator can put in a request of course), because it’s their task to make a product that is appealing to all broadcasters, not just to RAI (e.g. we don’t need 15 minutes of footage of an Italian favourite struggling behind the peloton while missing a deciding attack by a rider in front in the fight for the GC…).

          • Normally, it was high-quality technical hints, the sort of we often lack nowadays.

            Italian spectators, unlike French or Spanish ones (for different reasons) are for a very big part long-term “hardcore” fans, who really don’t care much about nationalism (*).

            The Giro is indeed where you have more generalist fans, so part of the show is for them, yet lots of viewers are all the same experienced ones, so the tone of the technical comment is very far from nationalism. Which is why, say, Contador loved to race in Italy. Most fans will root for a champion irrespective of his or her country, and people will also be quite much interested in aspects like strategy, politics and so on, which implies a lot of “watching the peloton when _nothing_ is happening”.

            (*) I can’t say about other countries because I’m not able to understand their mother tongue broadcast or read their online forums.

          • To be clear: when I gave the example, that was to explain why live feed & local broadcast producers have to be separate & independent, not an accusation of something that happened recently at RAI or the Giro.

        • So many times the Giro is (was) better than the Tour because it’s not all big ski station and mountain highways (the TDF took due notice and changed for good). It’s a bet which can give you more than one headache, of course, but as a fan I prefer the small back roads in rugged terrain (which implies woods etc.). It would be ideal to get that *and* excellent TV coverage. However, I myself criticised RAI & RCS for what happened in 2021 which was grotesque and their responsibility. Yet, I believe that this year it was a different story (new company thinking they’d do it great easily and oooops, not that easy).

      • ” a pity that the generational shift didn’t work as well as among (international) cycling athletes.”
        Not a clue what this means – if anything! Could you please put it in plain english?

        • 1) Among international cycling athletes, the generational shift worked fine, i.e., we hadn’t to wait much between a generation of historically relevant riders in Classics (Boonen, Cancellara, Gilbert, Valverde even) and a new generation of top riders who already impressed in one-day racing, like the Vans, Alphilippe, Pogacar himself, maybe Evenepoel. Same for GTs were we didn’t have to wait much between the Contador, Nibali, Froome, Quintana and some other qualiy winners.
          2) On the contrary, among cycling TV directors the generational shift didn’t work great. A couple of big names retires and the new ones look lacking.
          3) The above is a pity.

          Hope it’s plain enough, now!

    • Yeaaaaah, but the director’s work, which I cited incidentally (as in “by the way”) was awful through the whole stage race, and in other ones, too, where part of the stame staff was probably at work, and there was no visible connection issue.
      And. What I was trying to explain is that if you put at something the same staff and tech which at the TDF has no trouble of this sort, perhaps it’s not just about the people who’re doing the work (unless they like best Italian wine, which might make sense in Piemonte), and the organisers can’t do much more besides calling ’em, as a first attempt at least.
      Of course my comment above acknowledged that there were difficulties, only apparently it was not as simple as you and others thought.
      That said, it’s not like RAI and RCS didn’t s**w it big time in a variety of occasions and ways, it’s just that this one wasn’t among them, or not as clearly.

  8. It is obvious that RCS is not investing enough in appropriate signal amplification. Wich-in all is aspects-is an expensive thing
    No wonder they have become notoriously famous for that in the last few years
    Follow the money. No rocketscience
    I mean we are not talking red flag gate on stelvio here. Or Tourmalet in dense fog
    This is torino city in summertime. 2022.

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