Having started on some notes following yesterday’s time trial, all thoughts were Evenepoel having a slender 45 second lead that he’d couldn’t just defend. Instead he’d have to try and attack once he’d got beyond the rest day and two likely sprint stages that might offer him more recovery after his crashes. But that’s all been binned with the news he’s out of the Giro following a Covid test.
In the space of a week we’ve gone from the pre-race scenario of an exclusive duel between Evenepoel and Roglič, to Evenepoel not building the lead he needed, and now to Ineos leading the race but only just.
Yesterday evening’s notes did already mention Covid keeps lurking and as this blog’s argued before it’s a whole new risk category where just as a rider could crash or puncture and lose the race, now they can get Covid-19 and quit the race as well. Now anyone could get ill before 2020 but this virus is much more contagious than, say, influenza, and there’s a testing regime and protocols for it that don’t exist for other viruses. So it’s a constant Sword of Damocles hanging over any rider. To reprise an example, if you are betting on someone winning a grand tour five days away from the finish and they lead comfortably by five minutes you should demand longer odds because Covid can still take them out; and this is just punters having a flutter, imagine what this does to team plans? As well as Evenepoel, Giovanni Alleoti, Nicola Conci, Filippo Ganna, Clément Russo and Rigoberto Uran have also left the Giro because of Covid, that’s six out of the 15 riders to leave the Giro already and so as a big a cause as any.
Evenepoel’s withdrawal is a bombshell to the race and the sport in general, the leader and a star name. It’s very rare to leave a grand tour while in the lead, the last time it happened in the Giro was Pantani’s ejection in 1999 following his failed haematocrit test in Madonna di Campiglio. But this case has been something waiting to happen, João Almeida was out when sitting fourth overall in the third week last year and while Ganna and Uran were the big names to go already in the Giro, it’s a matter of time until a race leader was involved.
Some are asking whether he does the Tour de France now. First we don’t know when he’ll recover but surely it’s too soon in his career to target the yellow jersey? He really needed this Giro – whether he won it or imploded in the final week – to learn more. Going to the Tour would mean huge pressure, and after hurriedly resetting his goals. The course doesn’t suit him either. He could go just to soak up the atmosphere and target stage wins as a joker but that would be still be difficult, the pressure in July would mean that’s no picnic.
The sport’s Covid protocols have changed for 2023. No longer must a rider present a negative test or vaccination certificate as a requirement to starting a race and grand tours don’t test riders as a matter of routine. But teams do, this is why Jumbo-Visma kept switching riders in the days before the race started. One thing is the same in that a positive test isn’t an automatic exclusion, it should lead to a discussion under the rules between the team doctor, the race doctor and the UCI’s doctor who review the case but in this case once the team doctor saw things he decided that was that.
Mention Covid online and plenty of people will say we need to live with it, it’s nothing to worry about. Sure, fine for kids in a classroom, a trip to the supermarket or normal workplace policies and it’s great society has got past most of the challenges and fears of 2020, even Japan has eased its mask mandate this month, a sign things really are better. But cycling is different, as Soudal-Quickstep team boss Patrick Lefevere said just last night, “it’s not a 9-5 job”. There’s a consensus among team doctors, the UCI’s medical staff and others that the long term post-viral effects are unknown, citing heart disease like myocarditis and pericarditis which can occur if riders burn the candle at both ends. A lot of the pandemic research has rightly looked at public health rather than the fortunes of elite athletes. A few riders have gone public with the post-viral problems they’ve had, some have not for fear of damaging contractual talks to come and either way the count of riders with post-Covid issues seems bigger than those who’ve had post-viral issues from other bugs although nobody’s keeping a precise tally. We’ll know more in the coming years but for now what’s happening at the Giro could keep happening in this race, likewise at the Tour de France.
Evenepoel’s test was done by his squad and it’s Soudal-Quickstep’s decision to pull Evenepoel, not a decision made the Giro’s doctor nor UCI officials. There’s obviously a big commercial incentive to keep Evenepoel in the race and hope for the best, so the decision wasn’t taken lightly but Evenepoel is Soudal-Quickstep’s prime asset and they’re not going to risk anything detrimental over the long term and from the sounds of things, once the medical staff saw the positive the rest of the Quickstep management agreed… plus he just looked off the pace, there’s the test but we could also the performances, visibly something was wrong with him.
Anyway back the Giro…
..but staying with illness for a moment as Thibaut Pinot is sick. He’s Covid negative but under the weather and hoping the rest day does him some good. This shines a light because if he was Covid positive he’d be out but since he’s not he’ll stay and be monitored by his team. Unfair, double measures? Not really, there’s a body of knowledge to manage this that team staff feel comfortable with. Before arguments break out in the comments section they’re the rules and this blog doesn’t write them so ideally any expert advice should be given to the UCI and its Covid committee.
Pinot’s GC bid has vanished – with the long flat TT stages it was never really on – but he could stay for the mountains competition led by Davide Bais. If he can recover he’s got a good chance of taking points with the Cima Coppi on Friday on the Grand Saint Bernard. Absent Evenepoel there’s less chance of Ineos, Jumbo-Visma and Bora-hansgrohe mowing down the breakaway so they can fight for the time bonuses but all the same the big names going for GC this year could end up in the blue jersey especially as the points system rewards them. Note the English version of the rulebook is wrong and the Italian version mentions there are extra points where a climb is also a summit finish, it’s this that helped put Bais in a good lead. You’ll find these rules at inrng.com/giro in case you need more detail.
Andreas Leknessund is this year’s Juan Pedro Lopez, a rising talent getting thrust into the limelight with a spell in pink that he went and earned, then kept up a spirited defence. The sight of him hauling himself up the i Cappucini climb on Saturday exemplifies this. DSM is a Dutch company that’s just merged with a Swiss rival Firmenich and the new DSM-Firmenich management has apparently said it’s keen to stay in the sport and the team will unveil new kit in June. This is good several times over, first you might remember the team’s licence was only given for a year pending news on the merger so it looks safe for longer. Next the company clearly wants to use the cycling team to help share the new branding, a good sign and you might remember when Dimension Data became NTT the cycling team’s kit didn’t change for a long time, a sign that the squad wasn’t central to the firm’s image. There’s also talk of a budget increase.
Valentin Aurélien Paret-Peintre won in Lago Laceno. A paret is a small single seat luge used in the French Alps so people could slide down a snowy slope, maybe to take a cheese to market in the old days, and then carry the little luge on their backs for the journey back up. Normally it’s five pieces of wood assembled with some craft but if you feel like splashing out, Hermès offers a model for €10,000.
Jonathan Milan leads the ciclamino jersey competition on 113 points ahead of Kaden Groves on 100 and Pedersen on 89. Groves is surprisingly agile on some short climbs so there could be a battle between him and Pedersen as the pair hope to eject Milan on some of the hillier stages. As ever with the sprinters in the Giro there’s the chance of “altitude sickness” where they go home once the mountains approach and refocus on the Tour de France but Groves is surely likely to stay if he can.
Patrick Lefevere denounced 15 dogs on the race route and said southern Italy was like Colombia, and this wasn’t meant to evoke passionate crowds and spectacular climbs either. He’s got a roasting on Italian TV and in the press for this and it didn’t help Evenepoel’s popularity.
If you are at a race and see someone with a pet by the road, do encourage them to put it on a lead. No matter how obedient an owner thinks “Lucky” might be, the peloton, the helicopters can change all that.
The UCI decried the use of helicopters to take riders off the Gran Sasso after Stage 7, pointing out the inequity where race organisers RCS offer this service for a premium fee. Pay several thousand euros and teams can get helicoptered off a mountain rather than stuck in traffic jams or cable car queues, it’s been going on in the Giro for a decade I think by the way. In a sport of varying budgets where several teams have a rider on their books costing more than the budget of some squads in the Giro, financial inequality is baked in, and in many other ways including logistics and travel where some squads on the Giro have team buses others have camping cars. That’s the landscape of the sport and a few thousand Euros for a helicopter flight is a rounding error. Instead the issue here ought to be that RCS are incentivised to sell this service every time they find a dead end for a stage finish. If the alternative route off the mountain is awkward and tiring with queues for gondolas leaving riders shivering next to coughing spectators then this is borderline extortion by the organisers. By all means have helicopters but let the riders get off an icy mountain by priority cable car too, or use a police convoy to ensure all the race vehicles can get off the mountain fast.
Looking ahead the next two days are probably sprint stages but with plenty of climbing early on to encourage the breakaway and blunt the legs of the sprinters. Then come the Alps from Thursday. Friday’s high altitude passage of the Grand Saint Bernard pass
look OK with time to clear the snow off the road and reasonable weather this week: cold but not wintry update: looks like it won’t happen according to the Swiss media.
As for the GC competition, it’s all so close but advantage Ineos given they have two riders high on GC in new race leader Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart five seconds back. It’s hard to put a finger on it but “TGH” looks the best, the way he bridged across the Roglič on i Cappucini impressed and matching Thomas in the time trials is beating expectations, plus he can sprint well and likes the third week of a grand tour. Thomas is resilient too and if he can get a gap and away the Giro is there for him and in the case of both Ineos riders, they’d love to get a bit more of a lead and then deploy the team in defence mode: the mountain train of old. How to distance Roglič though? He is going to be very hard to contain and he’ll want to start attacking soon but his form doesn’t look outrageous, Ineos have got the measure of him so far but he’s still a first class contender. One challenge for Jumbo-Visma is they’ve not got the team they planned, Roglič’s traditional route to victory is harvesting time bonuses but can they mow down the breakaway and then have a rider or two to help on the final climb before Roglič launches? Almeida is solid but how to get the jump on his rivals? Bora-hansgrohe are still close but their move on i Cappucini helped launch Roglič and backfired when Vlasov and Kämna lost ground but they can still shape the race too. Plus there’s Covid…
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Evenepoel must have been quite sick for SQ to not even give wait for the rest day to hook him just in case he showed signs of recovery.
No doubt worried about him infecting other riders & staff…
Evenepoel did not reach his normal values or data in the time trial. Also, remarkable, his minor breakdown in the stage before. Evenepoel was exhausted after the time trial. He looked awfull. In the interviews one could hear he had a stuffy nose and a hoarse voice. He admitted to his wife he was getting ill. All alarm lights went off at the staff of Evenepoel. So it wasn’t just a routine covidtest. All this together with the positive test, made the teamdoctor and the staff to rightly decide to send Evenepoel home. Any other decision would have been irresponsible and could have been detrimental to his career. We don’t want other Colbrellis and Polancs. And I’m not quite sure “the injuries” of Ayuso the first months of this season were not a lie or distraction to mask possible side effects after continuing the Vuelta with a (light) covidinfection.
You’re not quite sure about Ayuso but you look quite sure about the heart issues of Colbrelli or Polanc having anything to do with covid, which is quite of a call.
To be fair to Jean, he didn’t suggest Polanc and Colbrelli’s issues were rooted in Covid. The point is that post-covid issues include heart problems, which can be exacerbated by exertion. It’s just an additional reason not to continue racing when infected.
But the very same (risk of myocarditis, pericarditis and the whole bunch) is true for flu, common cold and a great number of viruses with which riders do still race. It’s just risk balance. It’s not like nobody can face any risk at all ever no matter how small… of course, it must be up to you to decide.
Any word on the Stage 20 time trial?
It’s going as planned with organiser Mauro Vegni saying “it will happen” in an interview last week, no Plan B. There were some noises from teams but the local region has gone to considerable expense to pave the road up Monte Lussari and the race can’t turn around and say they’ve changed their minds because of a few teams, it would ruin things for the race’s relations with politicians.
In a piece that I really need to get to one day, mayors and local/regional government officials are invisible to spectators and fans but are some of the sport’s biggest VIPs and benefactors as they make a lot happen.
That’s some good news! I feared this polemic had just died down and would start back up again once the Maglia Rosa leaving the race silliness had faded. W Il Giro!
Pretty sure there’s a Mayor in a tricolore sash on each podium and as each start, where they carefully cut the ribbon to display at the Town Hall.
Thanks for your post a really sensible read of what is happening. I was chatting with a neighbour, who rides a bike in sportives and has long covid and now falls asleep at the drop of a hat, about Remco and Covid and the thought crossed my mind of the investment teams make in star riders, Long contracts, building teams around them, and so on, gathering sponsors, they don’t want to mess with their investment with a disease and its unknown long term effects
At the end of the TT I said to my family “Thomas is going to win this Giro”. At least that was my hope for him, after those years of poor luck. I don’t think Evenepoel’s retirement makes it any more or less likely, but I do wonder how the intra-team dynamic will play out. Past evidence suggests ‘G’ is somewhat undervalued by his own team – I hope he makes an unarguable case for himself at some point in this race.
(This isn’t to say I’m actively against TGH, far from it, but an old stager taking one last big win would be a good story among all the “little bastards” who keep winning these days. And Forza GVA, on that note!)
I hope that Ineos just let TGH and Thomas carry on as they are so that they are separated by mere seconds for Stage 20 and let that decide – may the best man win. They don’t need to do much more because Sivakov’s form is such that, if he goes up the road, JV have got to chase him and the rest can just follow with plenty of helpers. The tactics that Roglic uses are the most intriguing.
Hasn’t anybody suggested yet that Lefevere took out Remco from the race as a veiled protest for the 15 dogs in 5 stages and the 5 Ineos in the ITTs top 15?
No. He actually pulled him to avoid the embarrassment of being beaten by Tao Geoghan Hart.
That’s quite much reasonable, too! And the two things aren’t mutually exclusive, either.
By the way, and jokes apart, I’d be happy to see Tao win again, probably more than I was watching Hindley winning that dull Giro last year – to me, it’s a lot about how, rather than who (if it’s minimally credible, of course). Same for G, who at the end of the day was on the TDF podium less than one year ago.
At least G seems to be staying upright of late!
Ha! During the time trial, I said to my parents that TGH will win the Giro. I’ve had this feeling since the Tour of the Alps and the way he climbed up to Roglic the other day (leaving Thomas behind before waiting on Roglic’s wheel) only cemented that feeling. Of course, I could quickly be proved very wrong!
If not for the silly delay behind the crash, TGH would be 14 secs ahead of Thomas and 17 seconds ahead of Roglic.
Post-viral Fatigue Syndrome is not new. There are many riders who’ve had lulls in their career blamed on PVFS, e.g. from glandular fever (“mono” as yanks call it) – Cavendish being one.
Virally induced myo-pericarditis is not new either, IIRC documented at rates of 1k to 2k per 100k infections. And there isn’t strong evidence at this stage that covid19 causes it at higher rates than other common viruses.
Not quite true. Long covid is at an entirely different scale compared to other virus. So much so that the research into PVFS actually progressed a lot as a result of prevalence of long COVID.
At least they are now sure it’s not psychological.
I too fancy TGH (have done from the start after his form in the Tour of the Alps), he has performed well above expectations in the TTs and is climbing very well. Cant write off Geraint Thomas though, there is a case to be made that he is the best of the generation of British riders that were part of the Team Sky / Dave Brailsford set up, he managed to elbow his way past Chris Froome which took some doing .
I wonder if experience will be a factor here, I know Primoz Roglic has won three Vueltas but is that quite the same as the Tour or Giro, after all he has form for failing with the finish line in sight.
Hopefully conversations can focus on racing not medical stuff…..
As written above, I too have had a feeling about TGH winning but I wouldn’t be unhappy if Thomas or Roglic did either. Or Almeida for that matter (hard to see where he’d get the time though now).
Or Caruso or Vlasov!
Elbow past Chris Froome? Didn’t Froome have a minor crash to recover from at some point?
I love G, but to be fair, Froome didn’t need elbow past. He nose blew himself out.
Aurélien Paret-Peintre, not Valentin?
Great round up, thank you. Agree on your covid points.
For Roglic I think that a lot depends on Sepp Kuss. He is going to need a helper but with the late call-ups to his team the resources are a bit limited.
The final time trial still looms large and it is not obvious who will handle that best.
Kuss has been invisible to date, losing time and keeping fresh legs. The monster last week should see him appear
I feel Roglic could take the race entirely on bonus seconds, like he pretty much did in the 202o Vuelta. I can see him sprinting off to the line with Geoghan Hart vainly in his wake. Meanwhile Thomas & Almeida would be plodding on uphill at their own pace. Also having lost Ganna is suddenly a bigger blow for Ineos now they’ll be trying to control the race – while doubtless getting criticised by loads of people online for trying to do so. In fact for the sake of my stress levels over the next 2 weeks I almost wish Thomas & Geoghan Hart would both go out with covid! I find it so stressful watching British rides contending for races. I find it much easier watching pro races such as the Coupe de France ones where there are few or no British riders in the field & no Ineos.
The problem with the Primoz Roglic “bonus seconds” strategy is that it relies on his team pulling back the break but JV are clearly not the force they have been at recent TdFs, not sure they could implement this. Which other team would chase? If the group left at the end is Primoz Roglic, Geraint Thomas & TGH then the Ineos riders will have the advantage. At the finish the other day it seemed as if they could have dropped him but didnt try (for whatever reason). Primoz Roglic does not quite look in top form, the fact that both TGH & G (eventually) pulled him back the other day suggests they might be stronger.
Well DSM, EF and Bora have all “stuck it to the man” in recent Grand Tours, and then there’s UAE, I think we could be in for some fine racing. Plus of course Pinot for the mountains jersey and Kung to win the last time trial as he can now ride up hill.
I would imagine quite a few teams would want to catch the break on at least some mountain stages to allow their GC leaders to try for a stage win, even if they don’t expect them to be able to make up significant time in the overall. While Thomas & Geoghan Hart did catch Roglic it wasn’t until over the top of the climb so if that stage had ended on the summit then Roglic would have won (admittedly the others may have chased him harder in that scenario) & would now be in pink.
Geoghan Hart caught him on the top. Thomas needed to chase a bit on the descent.
It’s curious that in a sport plagued by practices which significantly raise the risk of heart issues both in the short and long term, they’re now so worried by conjectural risks of the same kind but covid-related. Well, I guess one must just be grateful because the lessons learnt made them more warm-hearted.
Was it Lefevere himself hinting at Colbrelli’s case as en episode which made QS so much more sensitive?
“practices which significantly raise the risk of heart issues both in the short and long term” C’mon, you’re smarter than that! None of those things are CONTAGIOUS in the way a virus is, Gabriele so how can you consider them equal?
Indeed not that smart, as I totally fail to get your point!
OK, start by explaining what “practices which significantly raise the risk of heart issues both in the short and long term” actually are and then how those are contagious, like Covid-19.
I mean doping practices (I’d have said you could get that!) and being contagious or not is not relevant at all, the point being rather that the characters who were taking some decisions in this story, even more so given the specific context they’re long worked in, never looked so worried by health risks for riders, even when those risks were much more than mere conjectures. But now they grew attentive, good news. Can’t see were the “contagious” part becomes pertinent. The team never mentioned that aspect, either.
If you can’t see a difference in that a guy taking EPO can in no way transfer risks involved with the practice to another rider in the peloton vs a guy with Covid-19 sneezing on a rider behind him and transmitting the virus, I give up.
Larry T, I’m not discussing what would be a good and fair policy (which could also be subject to further scrutiny and greater depth than your quite generalising and superficial stance).
I’m discussing if the motives are really those which were openly declared, or, bettr said, if these decisions are consistent with previous patterns by the same people.
However, I feel that of course no third party has the right to stop anyone from taking what the latter considers the most adequate decision regarding their own health.
So, I’m *not* saying that anyone should have had Remco racing if he felt that he shouldn’t.
Colbrelli and recently Pollanc.
I am convinced that there are still riders who risk their careers by continuing to train and race with Covid (or even flu), even without or with mild symptoms. We will see this in the future when talented riders stop improving or even develop heart problems as early as their mid-twenties. I think the decision of the teamdoctor and Lefevere is much wiser than that of the Emirates manager Gianetti by letting Ayuso continue competing with an admittedly light covid infection in the Vuelta last year.
As I said above, I’d like to know what’s the exact link between Polanc or Colbrelli and covid as a cause of their issues… rather than anything else. That sort of situations was common among cyclists well before covid.
I suppose one major difference is that some of the previous practices with increased risk of heart issues might have helped you ride a bike faster up the hill whereas having covid probably makes you worse at it.
Indeed. So the actual factor is the latter, I guess.
I wonder if the emergence of heart issues for Polanc and Colbrelli has resulted in a whole bunch of their stored samples being brought out for another look in the anti-doping labs?
They might be due to Covid, or they might be due to the traditional source of heart issues for cyclists.
Colbrelli required defibrillation after collapsing at the end of a stage in Catalunya. You can’t fake that.
Ha, don’t poke the bear on this one Gabriele! You made the point more succinctly and better than I did yesterday but it’s not worth the wrath of the internet even if I firmly agree.
I feel like the last oh-so-beautiful -___- Tour of the Alps is about to reload right now. Emotional! Or is it going to be 2018 TDF all over again?
Well, to be honest the Giros which Ineos eventually won still were between decent and very good, well above 2022 and, well, 2012, probably 2014 too.
So finger crossed and let’s hope in this case the race makes the riders rather than the other way out.
“..queues for gondolas leaving riders shivering next to coughing spectators then this is borderline extortion by the organisers.” Really?
That’s a pretty big claim. How much do you think RCS is making on this “extortion” scheme? What’s next…will you accuse RCS of taking “protection money”? Transporting illegal drugs around the country with their race? What other nefarious things can you come up with to throw dirt at them?
There was absolutely no reason why they couldn’t have had separate gondola lanes for the riders and got them down the mountain just as quickly. Why do you think RCS laid on helicopters?
Like I say give the riders priority to get down off the mountain otherwise the incentive is clear, there’s an opportunity to bill teams for a helicopter charter. It’s hardly a money-spinner for RCS either, a rounding error as said above for team budgets and race organisers alike, just a question of priorities. If the UCI wants to moan, fix the regular way off the mountain.
This helicopter chartering by RCS is not new, Marco Pinotti in his book “The Cycling Professor” writes that in 2012 while at team BMC he and three teammates were transported back from Stelvio using a chopper.
P.S. I read this book thanks to mr Ring!
I tend to agree with Inrng here, the organisers need to make proper arrangements for the riders post race, it is hardly news that mountaintop finish area are often cold and wet. They can be fairly inaccessible spots too. If the ski lifts have to be “riders only” in the post race period and that is inconvenient for spectators and media folks, that is how it has to be or finish somewhere else with a bigger car park. Ferrying riders around by helicopter (whoever pays for it) is not appropriate full stop.
On helicopters, Millar and Boulting came up with idea of Chinooks who could take a shed load of teams off at one go each Chinook can take 44 passengers so 4 could take the entire start list, and the choppers would of course be painted Pink.
And some Wagner of course (the music, I mean).
The music would be easier to arrange than finding 4 spare heavy lifters to charter.
I’d still work on keeping the road open or reserving some cable cars for VIPs, ie the riders.
Well that doesn’t surprise me. Their input to critical commentary seems to be based on reading Wikipedia.
Eh, bikes included?
I would like to understand why it was considered inappropriate or unfitting to do what is usually done, when a race finishes on top of a mountain or pass where the team busses can’t go or park. Riders then dress up and roll down the same road they raced up before, even when the remnants of the peloton are still climbing up.
Well when I said choppers, I obviously meant Raleigh Choppers, though they’d probably prefer a Fat bike these days.
It says a lot about this kid’s TT ability that he can still win even with a respiratory ilness like covid in his system. He looked 10 years older after the TT yesterday. Still won. That is crazy
That was exactly my reaction. What he could have done if 100% fit is mind boggling.
If Remco had aged ten years he’d still be three years younger than Thomas who he only beat by nine hundredths of a second
After not seeing many breakaways succeed this season, I see Remco’s abandon open up a lot more opportunities. There could be 3-4 more successful breakaways before all is said and done in this year’s race.
I am tipping Groves for the points jersey. Milan might OTL on Friday and I see Pederson pulling out before the finish to prepare for the Tour.
i’d add uae to the list of possible beneficiaries to remco’s exit. i think vine could get back in this race and maybe ONLY uae could use mcnulty or formolo to whittle down ineos domestiques.
not even remco could close on vine last in year in vuelta climbing stage. hopefully tues and thurs are raced aggressively and ineos is not as capable of thwarting attacks as they seem.
I was surprised to see some of the teams still taking Covid so lightly – I remember Ralph Denk from Bora treating it like “just another flu” (on a German podcast). Normally I would have expected them to protect their most valuable asset (their riders) as much as possible and not only put a strict regime in place for their team bubbles, but also put pressure on the organisers to make sure the riders are protected as much as possible.
Everyone wants to see an epic battle between the best, rather than riders having to pull out because of an infection caused by whatever.
Denk might say that but what chance the medical/performance staff have a different attitude? Especially as they’ve sent two big leaders to the Giro with strong support, some teams can treat the Giro lightly but they’re not. But as we’ve seen – and saw at the Tour de Suisse last summer – everyone drops their guard.
There does seem to have been an array of approaches by the teams. Ayuso was obviously allowed to race with Covid in last year’s Vuelta, while de Gendt and WVA (and others) have spoken out against riders leaving races due to positive tests, although they’re obviously not medical staff! The Cycling Podcast said yesterday that it was rumoured that Caruso was riding with Covid at the beginning of this Giro, due to isolation measures within his team, but he apparently had a different bug. Completely understand why Evenepoel was pulled though, especially if there were clear signs his health was suffering.
He didn’t have any bug. He was just at Romandie where there was quite a lot of COVID going around.
Surely Evenepoel can go to the Tour and go for stage wins. Target the TT (TT’s?) and a breakaway, maybe a set piece mountain stage a la Van Aert/Pidcock? He could bask in the rainbow bands, get some miles in and get ready for the worlds whilst getting Don Patricio loads of publicity. Who knows, if enough people get covid he might even win?!
If he is to go the tour, I think he should always go for the GC. Even if he is to end up 5th, it is the best way to stock experience.
It’s a nightmare scenario this for Remco.
I do not know what I would do if I were him.
Avoid the Tour it will seem like he’s shirking a battle no matter what recovery he’s had.
Go to the Tour half fit he’ll get battered.
Go to the Tour and get battered and many will question his future as a top level GT rider.
There’s a lot more to lose but win it and he’s top dog in the peloton.
Obviously though he’d always have to ride GC this year – he’s not Pinot!
But truth is, I have a feeling many suspect (including me) he’s simply not on Pog and Vinny’s level with climbing into the third week and if Lefervere were genuinely confident, given this new age of young riders, he’d have gone to the Tour a long time ago – but it’s a sensible move to hold back ride the hype and shore up sponsorship before we know for sure!
Now if he were to falter this year in the TDF with either a lack of form or being genuinely beaten it would take some of the juice out of the hype train as even if it’s true riders develop but also true some riders will never get to the highest level so he’d end up answering a lot of questions at a point in his career where he just wants to develop slowly.
Can’t make much sense out of “he’d have gone to the Tour a long time ago” (assuming that in such a context “10 months ago” wouldn’t be called “a long time ago” by most). Exactly, *when* do you have in mind?
The TT was the ninth day of racing for Remco and everybody else. But this was the longest block of racing he’s done to date in a stage race. At last year’s Vuelta, the first rest day happened after three days’ racing and then every 7 days.
Great article, thanks.
Minor edit/typo – it was Aurélien not Valentin who won in Lago Laceno
Got it, thanks
Sport can’t go on ad infinitum treating covid in a special way. If the rider is too injured or too ill to compete then withdraw ( as seems to be the case here). If not, then continue. Don’t overthink this.
Amen. Particularly as there is no strong evidence that the sequela of covid are any worse than other common viral infections.
Post-viral fatigue (“long” blah) and viral myo-pericarditis are not new with SARS-CoV-2, and covid19 does not appear to fall outside previous described rates of such.
And, nota bene, that is not to say that such sequela are good for a person who is affected by them. Just that the rates and magnitude of such do not appear to be greater with covid, so far as we know to date.
So should Thomas and TGH have pulled with Roglic on Saturday finally ? 🙂
Just caught up the news, a little bit disoriented. Hope the end of the Giro will be interesting still, and I really wonder when we will at least have a fair fight between Remco and one of the 4 other superstars. It’s like a bad spell is working everytime : LBL 2022 & 2023, Vuelta 2022, Giro 2023…
What to expect from Soudal in the last two weeks ? Some sprints by Ballerini, some mountain échappées for Van Wilder and Hirt, some flat marathons by Cerny ?
Scrap the bit about the Grand Saint Bernard being open, Swiss newspapers are reporting it’ll be closed now
The Swiss have been saying for long they wouldn’t open it because of business reasons, essentially (the tunnel money). Kind of absurd story, but that’s how it’s been reported by several locals for weeks now.
Also a follow-up for the same stage, they’ve cleared the snow off the Croix de Coeur climb above Verbier… and discovered some of the tarmac is in a bad state. So they’ve got a job to do, can’t be easy trying to put down asphalt when the ground and air are very cold at altitude… although it might allow for a temporary repair for the race.
They’ll check everything’s in place on Thursday evening. Fingers crossed it’s ok. If not then Friday’s stage will presumably have to take a detour via the valley floor to Martigny and then to the foot of Crans Montana.
Aurelien Paret-Peintre won in Lago Laceno, not his brother
Fixed it, thanks.
I was concerned and posted as much here before the Giro started that Covid might unfortunately play a hand in the eventual Giro outcome.
The real shame is that riders who had spent so much time and effort in preparation to give of their best are unable to chase their dreams until the finish. Lets just hope there are no long term effects on any of the riders involved.
It’s good to hear that the organizers are now taking additional measures to reduce risks at the start and finish areas.
If remco is fit i think it would be a good idea to send him to the tour if he can fit in the team.
He has already started several GT and won one he does not need more preparation. If he’s not good enough to win well that’s too bad he’s an adult and that’s life. Nut maybe he is good enough to compete. Keep expectations low and get him used to the circus of the tdf with less pressure.
For the helicopters the main thing would be to organise a way off the mountain for the riders and staff that isn’t poor. Races to road closures and all sorts of things surely its possible to do better. Ironically one of the riders that took the helicopter and not the publicly open gondola got covid. I think the UCI is right. The race operator should organise things better in general. It also comes to mind the giro has a problem with kick backs and contracts so even when there is none you can always be suspicious.
The question is, what would “success” for Remco at the Tour look like? For basically any other talented young rider riding their first TDF, a top ten and maybe a stage win would be phenomenal. Would Remco be happy with that? More importantly, would the Belgian media revert to “we hate Remco” mode if he doesn’t at least podium the race?
“It also comes to mind the giro has a problem with kick backs and contracts so even when there is none you can always be suspicious.”
Evidence please. Take your time.
Clearly i don’t have to low down like yourself but the race certainly has a reputation and that’s what i meant about a problem. A reputation is a problem in and of itself.
Well lets see.
2013 Top people sacked because of alleged missing funds.
2008 Giro. Astana is excluded. Then about 10 days before They are suddenly invited and their 3 top GC riders have to attend Contador, Leipheimer, and Klöden. Minister or similar position for sports for Kazakhstan informs the team they must attend with these riders. Possibly money changed hands but who knows maybe RCS did this out of sporting considerations.
Another really small team which got an unusual invite for such a small team (hint)had to be removed to make room but luckily an Italian protour team decided to put there naming right sponsor logo on their jersey out of the good ness of there heart.
Source – Johan Bruyneel. Although he is more open in saying that money changed hands in all directions.
Source – Johan Bruyneel. Really? How can anything that guy says be taken seriously? I asked for EVIDENCE which I guess you don’t have.
Reputation or stereotype? I shouldn’t care anymore but I do still get tired of people who live in places who have had crooks and liars (like Boris Johnson and Donald Trump just to name a couple) at the helm going on with their stereotypes about how Italy and by implication RCS) is somehow uniquely the land of unbridled chicanery…the old “Where Angels Fear to Tread” thing.
Can we avoid xenophobia and jingoism as this is a CYCLING blog? That’s the same reason I called Mr. INRNG out on his “borderline extortion” comment. Aren’t we better than this?
What are you talking about i don’t live in or even have visited either of those places whose previous leaders names you quoted. I hate it when people stereotype me just because i can speak the same language as some other people they don’t like. I do know people have visited there though so prehaps that’s close enough to be associated.
If the Giro has a reputation it doesn’t matter what the reality is. Its already a problem.
As the comment referred to “reputation” it was perfectly reasonable. No one thinks Italian corruption is unique, but did Berlusconi’s hyper-debased administration, all populist gestures and casual self-enrichment, not register with you? I’m pretty sure Trump and Johnson learnt plenty from Silvio’s playbook. Nepotism is a word derived from Italian, after all.
Speaking of Acquarone’s story or Bruyneel’s claims is closer to libel than weighing any reputation of sort.
Stereotypes and jingoism (a word which derives from English culture! Oh gosh!) become manifest when different treatments or judgements are applied to different subjects in spite of comparable behaviours – as I showed in another reply.
Nepotism is derived from Latin, and gets to English through French, by the way.
Brent Sword: You may not live in either of the countries Larry referenced, but his point is still valid. No country has a monopoly on corruption or its opposite. I think you’re from Oz, does the name Joh Bjelke-Petersen mean anything, or was that before your time? Makes Berlusconi look like an amateur…
Are you speaking of Acquarone’s story, really? He was fully acquitted and it’s something which should make us all feel uneasy that his story is still used as you do above. “Reputation”… then you quote Bruyneel ROTFL.
The persons who were supposed to be actually involved, by the way, weren’t in the Giro race organisation, rather a different level of the huge conglomerate which also manages the Giro, and took advantage of personal ties to get the money from the Giro as they could do with every other sort of piggy bank of the group (which maybe they also did). Not quite an uncommon course of event in many public o private companies, alas. Note that not even this “more real” story got ever proven in court with any “guilty” verdict, rather a part of Acquarone’s acquittal, names weren’t fully disclosed, for example. And, all that said, the whole story didn’t have anything to do with the Giro as such: it’s as if you were blaming Gerrans for the Kooragong accidents in 2011 because he was racing in Orica a few months later…
That said, unofficially the Giro is paying teams to compete often requiring this or that rider. Same was being said about ASO to have Pogi at Pa-Ni, but I haven’t read your comments about ASO throwing their reputation in a bin. All in all, paying riders isn’t as bad as what ASO officially did in the 2000s, that is, keeping out riders which Lance didn’t like. And probably a course design as the TDF’s in 2012 was even a worse crime
ASO were asked about Pogačar and Paris-Nice and said there were no payments.
What we know with the Giro, as Mauro Vegni said out loud in one of his unguarded interviews, is that all teams get a start fee (normal under UCI rules) but this is topped up according to who the teams send, eg a big name and the team gets more money, possibly substantially so. It’s not unusual, indeed under UCI rules appearance fees are supposed to be paid to the team in question not the rider, and the Giro really needs star names, it’s probably why Evenepoel’s DNF is doubly sore for Vegni, a big name and challenger out… especially if they paid out a hefty start fee.
The Giro can’t afford to look like a wild race but there’s nothing wrong with cultivating a bit of mystery, a dose of dietrologia as part of the charm 😉
I’m all but favourable to dietrologia and as a consequence to making it possible with smoke bombs and whatever, but of course ASO would say that and of course Vegni said what he said which is quite different from what brent sword implied. Though the latter probably happened! What’s naif at best is believing that it depended on the specific race, or making “a reputation” out of what most fans know to be common practices, not only at the Giro.
Even worst, defining “a reputation” through the events or declarations cited above. As I said, Acquarone’s story is sad enough without the added weight of distorting history.
Not to speak of making it all a national trait, as another user did, which is just grotesque.
So Vegni said it was a thing to pay more for a rider for RCS, and we never have the same declaration by a official from ASO… You have to admit things sometimes Gabriele, you’re not always right, even if you have a deep knowledge of cycling (and of other things like radon, which impressed me plenty). “Of course they would, of course he would, everybody knows, you have to be naive to believe that…”
I’m not certain ASO has to pay Pogacar to come to Paris-Nice, even if I know every March you write your annual sixty lines to explain to the world why Tirreno is a better race from every point of view. Pa-Ni is still a prestigious race, and Pogacar might want to add his name to the palmares once, instead of winning 8 Tirreni.
For the rest I rather agreed with you, until you put ASO in the sauce for no reason (like a pupil who, to defend himself, has no better point than : “they did it too !”) You’re better than this (and not that I particularly like ASO either, don’t get me wrong : maybe they’re just more discreet and that’s all, and the UK market-friendly 2012 TdF is still in my nightmares).
@Cascarinho, as a matter if fact, Vegni didn’t say that. He said it depended on “roster quality”, citing the number of captains, for example, and denying having paid for a specific name. Now, I don’t believe that it’s precisely so, as I don’t believe ASO. But that’s very personal, I wouldn’t defend in a court what I have no proof about, and you’re totally entitled to believe whomever you want. FWIW, I can’t see as “a problem” paying *teams* to have better athletes at the start, not even specific names, whatever the UCI rules might say on the matter (which I don’t know and don’t care too much about). As I wrote elsewhere, it’s way worse to design an extreme outlier route, or even worse to have athletes out in order to satisfy a competitor. But why the comparison? If it wasn’t evident enough, although I made it very explicit, it’s in order to explain why the above assertions by other contributors were biased by national stereotypes. It’s not about who’s more moral between RCS and ASO (ehm, none?), or what behaviours I like or not (personally very happy if ASO paid for Pogi granting us a great Pa-Ni), it’s about people considering that borderline behaviours only affect your “reputation” only in the case of some organisers, which is better shown by counter-examples. Not to speak of the other episodes used to outline that tainted reputation…
What is paying Chris Froome and Sky an undisclosed appearance fee if not ‘kick-backs and contracts’?
Chinooks. Our collective cognitive dissonance on global warming strides forward.
On Race Roadbooks – for the Giro and other races – Velorooms has a container for them: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1knEvZtG3R7cK4ijzNrKVN1TQlLdXCbuM
You might need approval from the Twitter account, though: https://twitter.com/velorooms?lang=en
Thanks for this post – I haven’t been following the scene as closely as I’d like, mostly watching the last 10 km of Giro stages and not reading much aside from this blog, so I appreciate all the context and info not well covered elsewhere. And special thanks for (again) framing COVID and its impact on bike racing so well.
Like a lot of people, I was really looking forward to how Remco would do in the third week, but that’s racing. Stuff happens, that’s why it’s so incredibly hard to win these grand tours. And I’m glad you highlighted Leknessund. Is it just me or has he not quite gotten the kind of attention for his youthful success that riders from other countries have gotten for even more sparse accomplishments?
Thanks for introducing me to the word ‘dietrologia’- the fact that it doesn’t exist in English is quite telling (and maybe revealing of INR’s identity!). To claim that ‘nepotism’ is a straight journey from Latin to English is comically obtuse- the distant, then semi-Protestant English never appointed their nephews to comfortable papal sinecures. You’re better than that, Gabriele. Tighten up!
Spare me the straw man or have a second and better read. Straight journey from Latin to English? Not at all, according to what I wrote above, but you might have got lost midway through the sentence.
But gabriele, he’s English – they are never wrong!
By the way, many of the most known examples of Papal nepotism weren’t even among Italians. It’s not like the Pope is necessarily Italian. Nor the Church / Vatican State is precisely “Italy”. Which is why it’s significant that the word originated in Latin, before being passed over to English *through French* (repetita iuvant, once again, so you needn’t look the other reply above). Not that Italy as such is free of nepotism of course, but citing etymology, and in a wrong way, as a meaningful element makes very little sense. The Church in Rome had forbidden such practices in late 17th century, whereas still more than a century later, in a distant island, as you may have learnt in Wikipedia itself:
Nepotism is a common accusation in politics when the relative of a powerful figure ascends to similar power seemingly without appropriate qualifications. The British English expression “Bob’s your uncle” is thought to have originated when Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, promoted his nephew, Arthur Balfour, to the esteemed post of Chief Secretary for Ireland, which was widely seen as an act of nepotism.
A distant island 🤣🤣🤣
Just made itself more distant.
Many thanks for the updates and perspectives, always enjoy reading this blog. And thank you also for regularly introducing me to new words. Although, in this case: dietrologica (transliteration) or behindology (loan-translation as proposed by the Economist 2011)?