Giro Stage 16 Preview

The Giro resumes… hopefully given the mix of bad weather and some beef between the riders, their union and race organisers RCS.

The Route: …pending the weather with talk that the Umbrail could be crossed in team cars… 206km and 4,350 vertical metres. It’s out of Livigno via the road the race rode in on Sunday, the Eira and then the Foscagno, unmarked climbs but really passes and hard work from the start. Probably insufficient as well for the breakaway to go.

Then it’s onto the Passo Umbrail to reach the Cima Coppi. The Umbrail is 85% of the Stelvio, still a monster of a pass. Only the summer cheer of this year’s Giro is now a DNF as the weather looks grim. Over the top to Switzerland and a long descent of the Val Müstair and then back out on the valley road to Bolzano.

The Passo Pinei is as it looks, a steep start then things back off before some 7% to to the top, it’s all on a wide road.

The Finish: up the main valley road out of Ortisei on the lower slopes of the Passo Sella and Passo Gardena and once in Santa Cristina, a right turn. From here it’s only two kilometres but a complete change, 12% average and much steeper at the start and all on a narrow road with hairpins that are steep on the inside line so if there’s a group them positioning counts.

The Contenders: Whether the Umbrail features or not the winner has to handle the climbing in the final hour. So Tadej Pogačar (UAE) again? Normally today should be for the breakaway but if the move doesn’t have the right blend of teams they those that missed it will chase and before we know it Pogačar and a large group led by the UAE team is 90 seconds behind the breakaway starting the Passo Pinei, the move is mown down and Pogačar takes his fifth stage.

There’s 14 seconds in the team competition between Ineos and Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale, with UAE third at 27 minutes. While Ineos can climb high thanks to Thomas and Arensman, Decathlon might want to put a rider or two in the breakaway for a shot at a second stage win and the team GC so Valentin Paret-Peintre comes to mind while the GC bid of Alex Baudin ended on Sunday, too many climbs in one go for him but if he’s recovered today might suit more.

The winner doesn’t have to be a climber, someone able to exploit hesitation in places or descents can build up a buffer. Can Bora-hansgrohe spare Max Schachmann? Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quickstep) sort of fits the bill with a short climb at the finish but his long raid to Fano suggested endurance rather than the famous acceleration of old, a win here would be a huge boost to his value. If the Umbrail is on then Michael Storer (Tudor) chances increase as barging away on the flat could just be harder.

Pogačar, APP, Rubio
VPP, Schachmann, Alaphilippe, Scaroni, Velasco

Weather: the big issue of the day. It’ll be 10°C and raining for the finish, the issue is whether the Umbrail is rideable, both up and down, and if measures are needed.

TV: KM0 is at 11.20am CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. Bolzano hosts a sprint just before the climbing resumes for the finale and is around 3.40pm.

Postcard from the Stelvio
Today’s stage doesn’t reach the Stelvio but with the Umbrail it climbs the same road before taking a left turn a couple of kilometres short of the Stelvio. The Umbrail is the original way here, it’s been a mule pass for centuries, although very new for the Giro as it was only tarmacked over the top in 2015 and the race first crossed in 2017.

The Stelvio existed too for centuries but just as a narrow perilous path and probably only of use in the summer for individuals. All this changed in the 19th century. Napoleon explored the idea but it was when the Lombard-Veneto kingdom came under Francis I of the Austro-Hungarian empire that plans accelerated and works were started on the Stilfser Joch to use the then German name. This was a military project to enable troops to be moved and horses to haul cannons. Carlo Donegani had overseen the construction of the Splügenpass and was hired for the Stelvio in 1819. By 1825 it was completed. About a century later it was tarmacked.

Italy’s post-war boom saw skiing and motoring become accessible to many and the Stelvio reflected this. While many mountain passes can be empty places with only a sign at the top, plenty of construction happened at the Stelvio pass with hotels, bars, shops, a ski school and more popping up. The Giro helped here too although visits are sparse, first in 1954 and today would have been the 14th time.

For a long time it was celebrated as Europe’s highest paved road until the Col d’Iseran in France was paved… seven metres higher. You’d think the Italian authorities could build up the pass to reclaim the record, maybe their French rivals would not respond as the Iseran isn’t a business location.

It’s a remarkable climb for the open space and enormity of the mountains but the buildings at the top are a defining feature of the pass. It’s like walking out of the Sahara and into a souq, only the waft of fried food from street vendors is a bit Germanic with sausage and cabbage. It even has Europe’s highest ATM, handy to pull out cash for the range of snacks and souvenirs on offer. It’s a strange place for the cyclist, a place where it can feel like you’ve longed to arrive but reach the Stelvio and you may want to get the hell out in the time it takes to pull on a windproof jacket. But at least what was once built for battle is now for reserved for leisure.

140 thoughts on “Giro Stage 16 Preview”

    • The valley roads are rather flat. From Mustair to Bozen, there is more than thousand height meters difference – but it’s spread over 100kms.

  1. “a place where it can feel like you’ve longed to arrive but reach the Stelvio and you may want to get the hell out in the time it takes to pull on a windproof jacket”

    Yep, pretty much sums up my experience!

  2. Could it be a stage for Jan Tratnik? The finale looks like it might suit him and he has the horse power to handle the long valley stretch.

  3. Cool postcard — any idea when it was taken? Can’t really tell from the scan but is that a Ferrari 330 next to the Alfa Giulietta? Have to say I’m most impressed by the VW Beetles and Fiat 500s — wonder how long it took them to make it up the pass. Might have been faster to push.

    Here’s hoping for a safe stage.

    • Funny you should remark this, TDK.
      I also found myself wondering about the cars parked and enjoying the wonderful old designs from when aero wasn’t everything and a beautiful prospect could be of a parking lot 😊
      I believe you are right about the Guilietta and the 330 though the 330 has a slight 911 feel to the shape in the picture. Can’t really tell.
      Great choice in picture material from our esteemed host. – And his (hers?) prose is, as always, short and to the point; ever so eloquent too. Highly appreciated and insufficiently commended.

    • Thanks for the car spotting. Was wondering what the cars were – beside the obvious VWs and 500s. 😉

      It looks kinda early 70s to me? Maybe late 60s?

      • Like others here, I immediately start noting the cars when I look at old photos or watch old movies, and this is a great post card for that. I think the Beetles are from at least 1965 (from the window sizes). I’m not seeing any of the iconic cars that were released in 1968-1972, so I’m going to guess it’s a ’65-’67 vintage photo.

  4. Great preview as always. Btw when I click the headline I get the article, but when I click the picture below the headline I get a “page not found” – perhaps not intended?

  5. The world’s happiest Australian shepherd used to live on the top of the Stelvio. Wide open spaces, animals to herd, and an unlimited supply of sausages from the tourists.

  6. These extreme passes seem to me to be disrupted quite regularly, whether it be winter snow or summer landslides. After that l’Iseran Bernal stage, I thought there was an unspoken agreement to be a bit less adventurous.

    • The most disruptive event of them all being imaginary bad weather, like last year’s GSB or Dolomites in 2021. But that’s what happens when “being vocal about the riders’ interests” (good) gets horribly confused with “taking good care of your friends’ interests” (potentially problematic), some of them riders but mostly not. And not most of the riders, in any case. Surely not having a serious and formal system of representation but a team-oriented one helps a lot in that sense… in the sense of being yellow unionism, I mean.

      By the way, how vocal was the CPA sooner this year when we had a race with a dire weather forecast which turned out to be exact, with several riders facing actual “safety issues”?
      Oh, they published posts on Twitter (X), Facebook and Instagram the day before to inform that they had a specific representative on the ground who of course didn’t do anything at all, reportedly.

      Here’s the post:
      Bert Scheirlinckx is the CPA delegate at the Flèche Wallonne. His role is crucial in ensuring the safety of riders in case of extreme weather conditions. Good work and safe race to everyone! #FlècheWallonne #RiderSafety #Wearetheriders

      • I mean… they are allowed to make mistakes? Life is hard, these things are complicated, I really think you could be more sympathetic and understanding of the difficulties the CPA face or at least highlight some positives when bashing, as it often feels all we hear is how bad it all is when I’m sure they are trying?

          • I mean, I guess I just think their communication and responsibilities are to the riders not us and if the majority of riders voted for this then I’m happy to leave them to it and let them iron out the bumps in the road or vote for something else in future?

            But really I just get the feeling we fans are looking for someone to blame and get angry at and CPA is the flavour of the month?

        • Yeah yeah, man, you’re sure they’re trying. Well, I’m afraid they’re not. Which is what the blatant lack of consistence makes manifest. But hard to know, in both cases, so this is really a matter of personal opinion… not on the content, rather on its frame. However, be it mistake or misdeed, I’m not sure that absolute lack of criticism helps.

          • I mean I guess? It’s just you seem so angry about it and I can’t quite understand what’s so vexing? These all seem pretty minor things we can just leave to the riders and their representatives to sort rather than bash from the sidelines with probably 50% of the info we’d need to make an informed judgement? Unless you are a rider and a member and
            I’ve misunderstood, then criticise away!! I’m nothing more than an armchair DS’ so don’t feel I know near enough to get into barracking the CPA.

    • Without going too far back in history (1910 MSR, 1924 Giro) … I recall a Gavia Pass in 1988 where it was bloody miserable going up and going down … and RAI2 showed up half an hour late so we missed the key break with Hampsten and Breukink going clear, Breukink to win the stage and Hamsten the Giro:

      They were on rim brakes and skinny sewups, how did they manage the downhill without crashing?!? They even had to stop to put on jackets!! (Except Chioccioli in pink, because he was well down the del Tongo totem pole and the team car was coddling their favorites well behind. Chioccioli might not have gone on to win the Giro that year, but he certainly lost it that day.)

  7. Surely Pogacar will not contest the win unless he wants to become the most unpopular figure in the peloton. The tide from being the poster boy is already turning given that people started to flag all his rides on Strava. The level of dominance will be questioned more and more.

    • This dominance is in line with his previous results, isn’t it?

      E. gm last TdF he rode a time trial for ages and dominated a (much stronger) field quite similarly – with the caveat of an all conquering black and yellow machine spearheaded by certain Dane, riding potentialy the best time trial ever and raiding the race in similar vein to this Pogacar, actualy.

      It’s hardly Pogacar’s fault the field of this Giro is so spectacularly weak, with no other top GC rider competing here – with all respect to aging Thomas who would expect him to finish a grand toir within ten minutes from Pogacar?

      But indeed, prolonged dominance turns even a generaly beloved athlete to a boring tyranic demigod, because we are spoiled easily and we lust for a dynamic bringing new and fresh experiences. Modern sport-entertainment-industrial complex was built upon the pillar of consumerist culture. It’s hungry to devour anyone who challenges the constant stream of change, of stimuli. The moment you reach the top, you are no longer an enjoyable rising star, you become the targer to overcome and ritualy kill. 😉

      • Many interesting points, but don’t underestimate the commercial value of sheer repetition, although of course many people might not like it and they tend to become vocal about the subject. Yet, a comparable or bigger mass of consumers, especially generalist public, will simply and quietly be affected by the desire to support a serial winner and identify with him or her. As I said many time, it can backfire onto the sport in the middle term, yet it’s undeniable that it’s a strong different facet of the involvement of industry in sports. However, to confirm your points, Merckx himself, even in such a different age, had also some negative impacts on the popularity of the sport… although not in Belgium of course!

      • Well, Thomas finished a very respectable 4’39” down on Pog merely two years ago. He can’t have deteriorated that much in this short span of time.

        Well, at least I hope not for the sake of myself.

  8. I definitely wouldn’t fancy descending the Stelvio on gravel, on a horse, towing a canon! That might put coming down the Umbrail in rain into perspective. I hope they don’t do anything as ridiculous as neutralise it or put people drive it.

    Just on to Pogacar, do we have any record on ‘most stages won by a gc man in a grand tour’?! I appreciate its fairly niche. I know Freddy Maertens won a mental amount of Vuelta and Giro stages in one year, so we’ll say since then?

  9. Old school maybe BUT.
    100% of riders vote to travel in the comfort of warm team car for most difficult part of today’s stage. Tweeted by Hansen. I am not there so not sure of the conditions, other than it has been raining all night. Rain sounds as though temperatures are above zero but cold and uncomfortable. Are those two factors in themselves sufficient to cancel a major part of the race? Snow and ice for sure, but rain and cold?
    A bike race is against the terrain, weather and competitors, or at least it used to be!

      • Yes, each team has one representative who votes in the CPA group. I saw one cycling news website headline that 100% of riders had voted but this is a bit misleading.

        Still unanimous support from the team representatives is notable, there are usually splits and today could have suited some smaller teams hunting for a stage win.

        • It’s a flawed system. We don’t know exactly how each team represantative is elected and when, nor how each of them manages the (supposed) voting within each team. We don’t even know if the team structure can hava a say or not, can control the voting or not etc. There’s a reason things don’t work exactly like that in “real” unions. What’s the issue in the 21st century which prevents us from having less than 200 people voting in an anonimized way?

          As every activist knows, no matter on what and how you work, if you don’t care first and foremost about a safe, solid, shared, transparent participation, the whole process isn’t really worth of and will 90% backfire or be captured by vested interests of sort.

          • During the DS-meeting it is routine to ask for team representatives to present themselves – or an appointed – after the meeting to draw up a list with mail+phone in case a situation like this should arise. A DS list is readily available from the license control. Sometimes the team rider rep is affirmed during licens check also, but sometimes not all make it in time for the license control or even the DS meeting.
            It is done on a race to race basis as, obviously, different representiatives are present at different races.
            Also it is custom to ask for a “peloton representative” be it a DS or a rider (mostly a seasoned rider who carries a lot of respect within the peloton) for more direct actions once the race is on, if this is (luckily rarely) needed.

          • @UHJ, so assuming it’s the same person (rider), I guess that the CPA sees as equally fit to have somebody, the very same person, as the rider rep for issue related to jury and issues related to union action. I don’t see that as a similarly suited profile. But I’m assuming, as I said… maybe they’ve got something more serious.

        • However, let me also say that even if this might have been a dangerous stage for Pogačar, it’s not like the sportive harm generated is really meaningful. Not at all, especially when compared to tragic 2023 or awful 2021.
          It’s just that it’s a shame from a symbolic and mentality POV, even more so when you see how differently was the Flèche treated.
          Last year the (very poor) excuse was “it’s not cold and raining, but it has been raining for the previous day”, now it’s not been raining, weather has been mild, but, ok, today up there it’s cold and it rains, too hard to cross the pass on a bike, whatever. It looks pretty childish, and not in a good sense.

        • The only people qualified to say if the Umbrail Pass can be raced safely are the industry people responsible for the design of their ultra-performant (and ultra-expensive) bikes and clothes. If they think their products don’t guarantee safety and proper racing conditions, they should divide their price by 3 and the peloton is car-driven to Prato. If they think their products are up to the test, the riders ride the Umbrail Pass to prove it.

          • Amen to that. Bicycle clothes are charged at a premium with jackets sold for 300 EUR. If they are not suitable for conditions with rain and 2 degrees, what are they good for?

          • I don’t think anything works, €300 jackets are worthless when it is 2°C, raining and you are going downhill at speed. You probably need some heated suit.

            Plus all the issues with the convoy, the cars don’t have snow tires, the motos even less so.

            But all this was forecast before, the weather didn’t really turn by surprise.

          • A good, thick, rain-proof jacket, and your body is fine whatever the temperature and speed. If needed, more base layers and jerseys underneath, and extra raincoat on top. The problem is the hands (but I think gloves nowadays cover any eventuality, you can use ski gloves if needed), and especially the legs: it’s difficult when the bibs get wet. But that’s where Castelli, Endura, Sportful, and the like, get tested. I’d really like to know who is able to make the warmest long bibs for wet conditions.

      • @Gabriele. 100% of riders is what was tweeted! Who knows anymore!
        Well it has now been announced that the first climb has indeed been cancelled. Riders will ride neutralized through a tunnel to the new start. I am not against safety measures where necessary, but it is 2 degrees at the summit. There is now talk of omitting the second climb as well.
        What would the ‘ancien couriers’ make of all this, and more importantly todays fans and potential spectators?
        Time to do some more gardening and maybe a bike ride for me.

    • The arguments in the letter sound ludicrous: “they can’t stop to put on warmer clothes”. Well, Adam… they can. And they can manage their clothing in other ways. Clothing management is part of the sport, a very important one (and I don’t mean aero issues). But most crucially: “safety” is once again being invoked when it’s only about comfort, really. That’s where the CPA is disrespecting whoever they expect to read the letter.

        • Agree wholeheartedly
          If 100% of riders can agree not to ride
          Those same riders could have all agreed to stop and put on a jacket and not kill each other on the descent
          Remember when they wanted to make the Tour so hard only one rider would finish??
          We’ve gone from that to this mess ??

      • It would be deeply unpleasant to ride in those conditions, none of us would want to. Discovery was showing feed without commentary of riders getting into cars and it was raining heavily, that thick white rain when its just gone past sleet! But its part of the contest, always has been, and in a long bike ride you will always heat up and dry out at some point, if you try hard enough. A lot of sport is unpleasant, especially cycling. I don’t suppose anyone was enjoying the ride up the last climb the other day. I don’t imagine any of the endurance events at the Olympics will be a barrel of laughs in mid summer heat either. I’m not sure why being cold is seen as so dangerous compared to being too hot.

        • Italian Rules for the Weather
          If sky is blue, the ride is on.
          If the roads are wet, the ride is off (unless rule #1 applies.
          If it rains on the way out, we head for a café.
          If it rains (or snows, which has happened) on the way back, we get on the team bus.
          If there’s no team bus, we toughen up and ride like Belgians.

      • This is taking away diversity from a sport which as such already offers to most scant (and scanter as team oligarchy gets reinforced) opportunities of winning. For example, and happy to be proven wrong, but if the CPA had this edition of the Flèche cancelled, allowing only fair weather editions, I suspect that Williams wouldn’t have had precisely the same chances of winning it. Of course, riders thriving under dire conditions, or, better said, enduring them better are a minority, as dire conditions are rare. But it’s totally the spirit of this sport to be subject to a variety of conditions and thus open up a range of different performances, different potential candidates to victory and so on. Even if it’s a small minority, which as a consequence will also lose any direct poll, I think that the sport loses something as a whole if you can’t see anymore *how and if* things change with hard weather, on very long stages etc.

        Of course, if it was really about safety it’s not about favouring the risk takers spiralling towards forced risks for everybody. But it’s not about that. And, indeed, not a word is being said about other serious actual *safety* issues.

    • RCS should have provided an alternative over the Mortirolo, Tonale, Mendola to Bolzano. It would have been a mamooth distance but at least at lower altitude. If the riders still refused to ride, everyone doing so should be disqualified. No rider is bigger than the race.

      • That’s the thing though. Everyone thinks their personal circumstances are the most important. ‘The health of the riders is paramount’ you hear trundled out a lot. Is it? Is the health of the sport not more important than a couple of people getting a cold and a collar bone or two going. Back in the day to complain about getting cold when you were getting paid to ride your bike would have seemed ludicrous. The alternative would have been working in a mine or factory or on a farm back home. For less money. To complain would have meant alienating yourself from your community. You see it with footballers and in particular cricketers complaining about playing too much nowadays. To complain when the alternative to being out playing a game was to be down a mine wouldn’t have been an option. Somewhere that has been lost. Maybe riding your bike in the Italian alps isn’t as attractive as working a dull job in an office, or on a farm in Belgium.

        • It doesn’t really bother me at all, on that level. Its not like I’ve bought a ticket to anything and I have plenty of work to be getting on with. I even have my own bike race to take part in later. On an open road, probably in the rain. I just don’t like it. And I wasn’t comparing to the 1920s either. I just think cycling is a challenge, often a pretty unpleasant one. Why is this particular unpleasant part of the challenge not acceptable? Nobody seems to care about their safety when they are jostling for position, barreling into corners between houses and street furniture at whatever speed. But as soon as it rains, in the Giro in particular, we get the ‘oh no, this is far too dangerous. The riders safety is absolutely, unequivocally everything. No questions asked. Get the cars out the garage.’ But in terms of missing a day of televised bike racing then its obviously not a problem.

          • This makes sense.

            I read the ‘back in the day… mining or farming’ comments to mean back in the day to 20s through to 40s or so.

            I guess I’m just lukewarm on the challenge arguments when there’s still so much incredible challenge year round in the sport as far as I can see – it’s a grey area though and I’m just closer to the not bothered about seeing riders churn through rain and snow side of the spectrum but it’s fair enough to differ, my only reservation is when it gets too far into the hard men argument as I’m not a fan of hard men in general!

            But again happy to agree to disagree I was just surprised as I usually agree with your takes.

      • Is this actually possible?

        I would’ve thought last minute changes with road closures, finish line / timing mechanism movements etc etc must be near impossible to provide without astronomical costs most races couldn’t afford outside the TDF?

        I’m not as down on the day being a wash out as others here as it really doesn’t seem like that big of a deal and something we’ll all forget quickly – but if anything avoiding areas vulnerable to weather ruining a stage would seem to be the best/most cost effective option in future but… as I’m not a meteorologist that might be a stupid suggestion and rule out most Italian climbs in May!!!

        Tbh I’m happy to just live with the current system and be aware some stages might get cancelled and not get too angry when they do?

          • @Richard S

            I feel like we regularly agree here and really enjoy your posts but was reading the above thinking ‘does it really bug you that much?’ – I just don’t think losing a day to weather is that big of a deal? When we get into comparing todays riders with those from 1920 it all feels like we’re getting a bit excitable about something everyone will have forgotten in a few days?

            The only times weather days have really got to me is when they’ve affected the result once commenced, I felt very sorry for Uran losing the Giro lead to Quintana that time that the neutralisation was badly communicated. And despite being happy for Bernal and a Colombia to win the TDF, the landslide that day did affect any other riders chasing him on the final climb and slightly helped him to a (still well deserved) lead. Admittedly though the organisers were unlucky there and couldn’t have done much different.

            If climbs are taken out before the start or changes made ahead of time so it’s the same for everyone I have no real issue with it whether it’s for snow, cold or whatever as there’s enough cycling to get me by and if they can learn from any mistakes made for next time that’s fine by me?

            I guess I’m not sure if today is that much of a big deal? But if I’ve misread your tone or misunderstood your posts I apologise.

        • Probably not possible if you plan it at the last minute, but surely the organiser should have a plan B in hand already when they announce the initial route when they plan a stage with the Stelvio. It is not rocket science to predict that there might be snow in May at 2800 meters. Furthermore the forecast for today predicted these conditions for days. I wrote it here in the blog comments on Saturday already so I believe there was more than enough time to present a plan B. Instead once again we have a total mess and a mockery of the race.

          • Yes this makes sense.

            I actually wonder though if a plan b is logistically possible or affordable for Giro? Surely they would do it otherwise?

  10. Hoping I can catch this live today, so far I’ve only been able to follow via this fantastic blog and the handy youtube highlights from Eurosport. I’d hope there is some semblance of racing for the stage and not another Pogi-show as impressive as they are.
    If the weather’s as bad as it sounds it will remind me of my time on the Stelvio and Umbrail one late September, it was absolutely perishing and probably the coldest I have ever been on a bike. Having to stop for a few moments of sanctuary from the wind in the chapel on the way down nearly had me praying for divine intervention, the hot chocolate and ‘stelvio’ panini special by the open fire at the top had done little to dry me out and keep me warm for the descent, plus my brake pads had a scant mm of life left in them after the earlier descent of the Umbrail! Brutal, I really need to go back and do it in better weather.

    • That said, who could compete? Roglic might be closer but wouldn’t win, Evenepoel has yet to prove he can win a GT, and Vingegaard seems to be a peaky rider who is only interested in the Tour.

      • “Evenepoel has yet to prove he can win a GT”
        Was he stripped of his Vuelta win then?

        I can fix it.
        “Evenepoel has yet to prove he can win a GT against the likes of Vinny and Pog.”

  11. Weather aside, the riders appear intent on making themselves unpopular with as many people as possible.

    “For their part, RCS, the Giro’s organisers, complained that the riders had not turned up for a “town parade” in Livigno, despite agreeing to”.

    “At today’s meeting, an agreement was reached on moving the race from Livigno with a town parade,” a new press release reads. “Despite an handshake between the parties, the athletes did not show up at the start in Livigno.”

    This type of action shows great disrespect to the organizers, host town, sponsors and supporters. Health and safety is one thing, outright disrespect takes the matter to a higher level.
    What do these idiots want?

    • There should be heavy fines all around. It is about a time the race organisation should make a stand on this otherwise they will be in the riders pockets all the time. Rain bad, wind bad, snow bad. It is laughable.

      • @Anonymous: If the team and rider representatives were of the opinion that a town parade would turn the bike race into a zoo, then they shouldn´t have agreed to it. Simple as that, don´t you agree?

    • Not to be part of a ‘town parade’ in the freezing cold and rain just for the sake of it? It’s a bike race not a zoo.

    • I don’t think that’s a bad comment Larry? Most here agree with you I think? From what I can see of cyclings die hard fans you are in a majority?

      I’m probably one of the few who disagrees as I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal if we lose a few days of hard man snow time.

      Partly because I find the few hard men who pride themselves on their hardness that I’ve met in real life insufferable, as well as the rhetoric around that kind of culture being so visible now in society and pretty distasteful.

      Then partly because cycling already sates my need for being impressed by epic feats of endurance at Roubaix and elsewhere, I’m not sure what fighting throw snow for a bad race that’s difficult to follow with satellite and helicopter interruption plus a photo only a few niche fans look at 50 years later really adds? We have the Hinault LBL memories, I’m sure the new generation will give us new and different ones however and whenever they race.

      • I’m someone who has frozen his own a__ off at a few races…as a spectator. Just to see the race pass by. I remember one year at TdF they did a similar thing to today, driving “Mr. 60% and Co” past us as we stood wet and cold by the roadside. Lot’s of one-finger salutes were given as they passed. They started their race on Montgenevre as I recall with “Mr. 60%” racing to a win while avoiding a tough stage that might have been his undoing.
        Contrary to GCW’s jab at the Giro, besides the Gavia 1998, La Corsa Rosa raced up to Tre Cime in the snow not that long ago…I was there with clients who rode up from Cortina to a viewing spot part-way up the climb. I don’t remember anyone being killed or injured on that day either but it’s now a legendary exploit that maybe we’ll never see the likes of again?
        IMHO it’s a shame – if you want to race in perfect weather, they have indoor velodromes for that.

        • Seeing this from an on road spectators point of view is fair.

          I often feel sorry for people who pay thousands to go abroad and watch sporting events like football finals only to see their teams lose – doing that for a cycling event and then not seeing it at all is an understandably aggravating scenario. This is a good point and one I was not fully considering.

          I’m not sure how it can or could be fully addressed in the current system though if you’re of my persuasion and not one for forcing athletes to perform whatever (as I actively do not want cyclists to entertain me in subzero temperatures) – but I do think it would be possible to maybe alleviate or address to satisfy us both with a wider reform. As it stands this is the status quo and it probably bugs you more than me.

          • @oldDAVE, I feel I should write a few lines to say how much I agree with your posts on this topic. Most cycling fans admire the doggedness of their heroes, and so do I, but I don’t understand why some seem to think that this is all worthless if doesn’t involve overcoming adverse weather conditions. I can think of so many races that were thrilling to watch, but the weather wasn’t a major feature. To list just a few recent things that come to my mind, we had Alaphilippe and Maestri’s fight against the chasers at the Giro, Hollmann’s desperate attempt to solo to victory at the Antwerp Port Epic (and the nail-biting question of whether the two chasing groups would merge, hence giving the sprinters enough domestiques to reel him in), Lipowitz repeatedly asking for permission to chase Carapaz on stage 4 of the Tour de Romandie, eventually missing victory by a few metres, and so on. So much triumph, heartbreak, drama — and all of that in the past few weeks, and in all sorts of races. Going a bit further back in time, how about Roglic’s TT victory at last year’s Giro despite a mechanical, Pogacar beating Roglic in the final TT of the TdF, MvdP’s mindblowing win at Amstel, Froome and Sagan escaping from the bunch at the TdF while wearing yellow/green, ferocious battles to get in breakaways, chaos in crosswinds, and so on? Don’t we see amazing performances all the time? I understand that racing in atrocious conditions has led to some of the most memorable moments in cycling history, but do we really think that we have the right to demand from the riders that they risk their health/life? I genuinely sympathise with the race organisers, and it is very disappointing if races are modified or cancelled, but how can this vitriol against the riders and those who worry about their safety be justified? It is incomprehensible to me as a cycling fan, and from a rider’s parent’s perspective I find it utterly disturbing.

  12. I mean… I like watching a bike race as much as anyone, but we can’t pin every major crash to the race organizers on account of poor route, poor signaling, poor road quality; and then when they do prioritize safety on a completely wet stage that has 100km of descent, we jump on the organizers again because they now are caring too much about safety.

    To me, as long as the players are being heard, I am happy. They are the ones putting their bodies on the line. And they want to compete more than anyone too, more than the fiercest spectator.

    I would like to see an alternate route, but I also unserstand that it may not be that simple to have an alternate route on hand for every stage. It’s an organizational nightmare, with closing roads, cleaning roads, checkpoints a s timing. Let alone contracts that are probably signed with localities and sponsors.

    I’d like to see a bike race today. But hey, shit happens.

    • There’s a lot to organise, just moving the race into Switzerland instead of the Stelvio was a big deal.

      There’s also the politics we don’t see. Officials in Aosta were offended by the Giro start last year when the riders protested about a dangerous descent in Switzerland… but the solution was to scrap the Saint Bernard pass out of Aosta instead and still race the descent. The region has its own U23 race already, the excellent Giro Valle d’Aosta but RCS is sending its U23 Giro Nextgen to the region, presumably as a gift with the region surely likely to host the Giro itself very soon. Livigno presumably paid big for a stage finish, a rest day and a start and there are politicians and officials to satisfy.

      Some of the communications on the morning of the race could be improved, a lot of the late decisions today could have been announced yesterday and there would have been more time to explain them.

      • “…a lot of the late decisions today could have been announced yesterday and there would have been more time to explain them.”..
        Vegni implied there was a plan B (Umbrail) and C (what they’re doing) set up just-in-case. Would you have them cancel/defang a stage on a mere threat/forecast of bad weather rather than wait to see what’s actually going on?
        Didn’t someone get their chamois-all-in-a-bunch and force butchery to a stage based on a terrible weather forecast that never materialized not that long ago?
        Hindsight’s always 20/20 but race organizers don’t get the benefit of that, unlike keyboard lions.

        • It was foresight as lots of weather sites (3b etc) were all predicting the same thing, light snow turning to rain for the Umbrail in the morning. Which is why this blog opened with a line about bad weather and RCS vs CPA, the rest day review mentioned the weather etc, it was literally written about ex ante here and elsewhere.

          What was the weather forecast that didn’t happen, Aosta? That probably wasn’t the weather, it was to give the riders something so they didn’t protest the Crans Montana part of the stage. Which is probably a factor in today’s polemica.

          • “That probably wasn’t the weather, it was to give the riders something so they didn’t protest the Crans Montana part of the stage. Which is probably a factor in today’s polemica.”
            A real PC answer – you should run for political office IMHO.
            A lot of this might be easier to take if Adam “CYA” Hansen had the cojones to show-up in-person at the 2nd most important GT in cycling instead of tweeting BS from gawd-knows-where? Sometimes I think you are his mouthpiece, but what do I know? The back-and-forth between Paolo Bellino and Christian Salvato was pretty interesting on the Processo – I’m siding with RCS on this one. W Il Giro!

          • Did we learn much from the Processo? Salvato didn’t really want to own the decision. Even niche readers of a blog and the blogger too don’t really know what happened today so you wonder what the wider public thinks of it?

            It’s a point I’ll keep making but if the riders don’t want to race then at least send someone forward to explain it to TV.

            Salvato can always be the lightning conductor, the “bad cop”, that’s part of the job and he was catching some thunderbolts but no detailed account. Hansen too can do this. Pretty sure he was tweeting… from the Giro by the way.

          • And please cite instances where 20/20 hindsight has been used on that blog to criticize something. I doubt you’ve read more posts than have been linked-to here. “Ignorance is bliss” as they say.

          • Larry, chill, it’s a joke! And a pretty good one – you can laugh at yourself every so often! I enjoyed reading the link you sent and that you take the time to blog your opinions, every sport needs fans with your love and energy but we can make fun of ourselves from time to time!

    • Fine, only I think that’s nlt what was happening, to start with because safety’s nothing to do with this, and it’s not players being heard, at best being a herd. Which depend on a poorly structured (not by pure chance) representation system. And, again, it’s not even it all about that, as majority harming minorities would not be a healthy system anyway.

  13. Today is not especially meaningful unless seen in contest. It’s a farce that’s been going on for years now. And competition has been altered to a major or minor point an already relevant number of times. Every event reinforces the possibility to go on or do worse in the future, as today’s case actually shows, in all of its facets, including opaque representation or misuse of the idea of safety (someone please explain me that…).

    The section at 2 degrees was not “all day long”, not even the whole descent. I don’t have the Swiss figures but for instance at Oga near Sondrio at 1,500 m above see level they had 9 degrees.

    You don’t need any space equipment to ride a route like this on a day like this. Deep winter standard equipment will do, personal experience. Especially if you’re given the chance to change wet garments, as it had already been agreed.

    • It gets worse and worse but what do you expect? The whole peloton with a few exceptions spends the entire winter in Spain or other warm weather locations. Then when racing resumes they go to Australia, the Middle East or Spain. Nobody endures good old winters like we have in central Europe. Nobody trains in rain and 0-5 degrees. Then you get a day like today and all of them refuse to race. Most pathetic comment came from O’Connor who criticized the Giro organization. Shameful behaviour and one which he should get a hefty fine for. You cannot criticize the governing bodys in other sports, why can you do that in cycling?

      • O’Connor (and Plapp) were clearly speaking pure nonsense somebody else had put in their mouth. A good example – and not a random one, of course – of what I mean when I say that the representation system they have now is a parody, like some friends talking together to stir things up and most of the rest just following.

  14. @oldDAVE I’m not especially angry, just have an issue with lies, demagogy, manipulation, power plays, that sort of things. It’s the spice of life, of course, but when you start to understand to what point some things go really bad because of that, it’s suddenly less funny.

    • okay – well, I’ll leave you with it then.

      I don’t really understand where all the lies, demagogy are if I’m honest – power plays are kinda par for the course in any kind of sport in the rarified air of its politics so doesn’t seem that remarkable – so I think I’m just failing to see where this gets ‘really bad’ as it’s to me it’s just a shortened stage? Of which we’ve seen many? Reading INRNG’s replies to the posts above I haven’t shaken the feeling we might be overreacting without the full picture to inform us.

      But if you want to detail all the lies etc that make this time different and part of a slippery slope I’ll happily read and agree if persuaded.

      • Shouldn’t waste time (abundance of info available), but:

        100% riders have voted for this…
        Let me add that it’s really mean to sign a three options protocol the day before, then forcing the “worst case option” if no “worst case scenario” has shown up. Real conditions weren’t on the worst set which could be forecast, rather “halfway through”. And still, depite what the CPA ha signed less than 24 hrs before, they went for the extreme option.

        Or, here, “untreated icy roads”, “subzero temperatures”.

        The slippery slope? We’re on it since that “old” Ti-Ad, then a flat stage cut short “because it rains”, Dolomites cut out in 2021 for snow which never was there, the GSB farce etc.

        As a cycling safety activist, I find the use of the word especially insulting. Without ice and with a proper equipment, there’s no safety difference between today’s stage and a normal descent under the rain with warm temperatures, even.
        All the above, after this year’s Flèche. Boasting a CPA presence to monitor weather condition and riders literally freezed without the CPA taking any action. All forecast.

        These actions indirectly take away from actual safety issue, and of course from a serious collective athletes’ movement. It’s a shame.

        By the way, watching the end of the stage of course we also get a clearer picture of the surprises which hard weather can grant. You never know what can happen on a great climb under hard weather. Hard weather which has nothing to do with hard men or so, it’s just challenging but quite acceptable conditions, even more so given that the cold zone was limited to the highest altitudes.

      • And I wouldn’t like to be the RCS person trying to sell a Giro stage to mountain municipalities after everybody saw the major of Livigno waiting for the riders under the rain on the start line… in vain.
        The weather didn’t change or got worse, so why the decision of the CPA to push for the most extreme option 3 after having agreed on a scale of 1-3 among which option 2 was the one corresponding to the weather.

  15. One thing I am positively “impressed” by is the whole topic of littering. Some riders were using disposable one-time gloves for the beginning of the stage and took them off; they did not throw them away but gave them to the team car (at least when the camera was pointing on them :-D) . Same with littering zones … being a TV consumer, I like the development.

    And again BIG KUDOS to INRNG, brilliant coverage & commentary as always! Much appreciated!

  16. When does it become a safety issue? Is it when the first rider goes down on untreated icy roads? Or is it when the 20th rider goes down?

    • Where were the icy roads supposed to be on the route? Or where was the risk of ice on the roads raised as an issue?

      Granted, there are conditions when the road can get icy even though the air temperature is above freezing, but what weather forecast warned of such conditions?

      • “CPA president Adam Hansen has been scathing in his criticism, pointing out that the current forecast – a temperature of 2 degrees, with a 95% chance of snow – does not meet UCI’s Extreme Weather Protocol under two different measures (Point 1: Freezing Rain, Point 4: Extreme Temperatures).”

          • I got to be honest Gabriele, I want to get on board and support your frustrations but even with your outlining above and notes here I still don’t fully understand the whole debacle nor get what makes it so unequivocally one sides fault rather than just normal chaotic cycling madness – so either your powers of persuasion aren’t punching through or I’m simply just too dumb to get it – and it’s probably the later. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I just don’t fully get it so will exit stage left and leave those who are more bugged than me to debate.

            But don’t worry, when the calendar next comes up I’ll jump straight back in the deep end!

  17. The “safety issue” is electronic gears still getting stuck under light rain ROTFL

    (Just to add some beef :-P)

    (So disc brakes aren’t that useful after all 😛 )

  18. Surprised by the strength of feeling here. I ride year round in the North of England and will often encounter heavy rain, freezing conditions and occasional snow whilst on the bike over the winter. However, it seems like a daft idea to expect the pro peloton to ride in these conditions at altitude, particularly wet snow which can make for very treacherous conditions with limited/no traction. Recognising the complexities of moving the stage it still surprises me that RCS can’t do a better job of having a back up plan. This kind or disruption & weather often affects alpine giro stages and in this case has been forecast all week. Why not have a pre agreed business continuity plan which can be enacted in consultation with CPA?

    • Ahem, they had it. It’s the CPA which changed their mind this morning.
      No snow (neither forecast, nor real) under 2,800 m above sea level.

      Ah, by the way, “freezing rain” is a specific phenomenon, not heavy rain plus cold conditions.
      (Not that you’re saying that, just the phrasing above which offers a chance to point it out for the nth time – doesn’t Hansen know that after years of EWP or is he just pretending?)

      • It seems there was snow on the road this morning, the Foscagno was white at 10am in a photo posted by Enzo Vicennati earlier today.

        Did the CPA change its mind this morning or was it bound by the vote last night?

        But there’s little explanation for this all. Just like Aosta last year, if the riders don’t want to ride it’d help a lot if someone could be given a microphone at the start, maybe Pogačar or someone who speaks Italian – think Pozzovivo, Caruso, De Marchi – to explain and say a quick sorry for the fans who’d been waiting. It would smooth things a bit.

        • Nonsense. RCS wouldn’t hear of ‘option 3’ (altered/shortened stage) the day before. The teams did not agree. The morning of the weather is even worse than forecasted and snowing AT THE START. The interview with the head of RCS this morning confirmed that given the conditions they couldn’t race as planned. Had RCS been flexible the day(s) before the circus would have been avoided.

          • CPA had signed the 3 options. Option 3 made sense if “zero termico” had descended at 2,500 mts, which it never did. Conditions were bad but far from radical. By the way, snow isn’t bad at all to ride under 😉
            Weather was very similar to what had been forecast. But whatever. Today is the only occasion in my life when I’d have liked to be in Vegni’s place – to actually jump on my bike and ride before the bunch the first couple of hour as requested by some smarty athlete.

            However, had today happened in historical isolation, whatever. You can even understand *these* poor guys and let them ride their bus. But as shown abudantly, it was not the case, this is part of a recent track record.

  19. @inrng

    Speaking of weather… but on a different note, for a change 😀 , you named Giro sponsor 3Bmeteo which are having a hard time of sort, indeed, but I still feel they’re the best around for Italy, especially Northern Italy.
    Truth is that instability this last couple of months or so has been huge, not only as in fast changing scenarios, but also in terms of, well, impredictability. If weather forecast were betting, they’d be on a painful streak. I must say it’s a common issue, some webpage or app can guess better a day, but the reverse might happen soon. Not an expert, but it’s been a surprise of sort as until a handful of weeks ago they were still extremely reliable even facing complex evolutions of the daily weather.

  20. I’d remind people that it’s 2024, not 1994…….You can’t treat top sportsmen like serfs anymore; RCS/ Vegni seem to be in a time warp, and think what they say goes…….it doesn’t.

    In most other sports, the governing body would have more of a say, not just the event organisers…….but this is cycling, and we know what that means.

    But we all know the same thing will happen again next year – and no lessons will have been learnt…….

    • Serfs… for complying with the race route, given that nothing exceptional was really happening?
      Why race at all? Just take a couple of photos and collect the prizes. It’s 2024 after all, a Tik Tok reel and everybody will be ok.

      Vegni is so amenable towards riders that things went out of hand. Several times. Quite evident that you don’t know much about the people you name.

    • Oh you wrote 1994 clearly you meant 2013 (Tre Cime), 2014 (Stelvio) or 2015 (Terminillo) when racing under the snow, and nobody got even nearly as frozen as in 2024 Flèche, but, yes early 2016 started to mark a change.

    • We’re asking for top sportsmen to act like top sportsmen. Not little babies.
      What RCS says actually does go. It’s their race they don’t have to change it.
      If it’s cold put clothes on. If you have to stop to do it, stop. If it’s dangerous slow down. If you don’t want to ride, don’t. You DNF.
      If it was snow covered roads ok. But it wasn’t. Just wet.
      And for all those that say it’s no big deal..It is. It’s changing the rules in the middle of the game. That’s never right.
      And it’s taking away an element of skill,
      Endurance, enduring adversity, tactics (to stop for clothes or not, etc.) and the cumulative fatigue of a GT.
      Once the roads turn white though, I give up. The weather wins.

  21. The fans, start/finish towns, organizers, mayor and sponsors deserve better than these sort of problematics. They are after all the ones who directly or indirectly keep the riders in employment. One has to ask if Hansen is ‘using’ safety simply to bolster the influence of the CPA. There can never be such a thing as a ‘safe’ race, so where will this all end? I guess none of us know, but all the indicators are that Hanson is not someone who takes account of all the ‘players’ involved.
    As INRNG says, it would have been helpful, even polite if the main players in today’s events had at least appeared in public to explain the reasons for their actions.

    • Baffled by these statements. What to explain when it’s snowing heavily at the start, let alone the top of the climb.

      The RCS head said it as much that morning – the weather was worse than expected and they knew they couldn’t race as planned.

      But they didn’t want to negotiate with CPA the night before and threatened to make them ride it from the start even in light of the changed conditions, mostly out of spite as clearly they were sick of those pesky riders and their silly concerns.

      • Phantasy world above. Snowing heavily OMG. It becomes more shocking with every post these Anon write. Prepare for some tactical nuclear bombing by Putin on the Eira once a couple more of these get written down.

          • “…do we really think that we have the right to demand from the riders that they risk their health/life?”

            *This* very legitimate question is an example of paranoia when applied to yesterday’s conditions.
            Of course I understand it as a parent – and this was the perspective under which it was formulated.

            I’ve been watching Eira’s webcam (none on the Umbrail) and “snowing heavily at the start” is pure fantasy. I’ve been watching live Livigno’s major waiting under a light rain with no apparent sign of freezing. So what’s next to justify Hansen & friends’ crusade against mild to cold rain? With “a few frost flakes” at most, as inrng wrote optimistically 8 years ago. That post is worth reading to appreciate in perspective what might have been paranoia and what actually happened.

          • I went to have a look at the Eira webcam and you can see the timestamped image with snow on the road. Not icy but wet snow.

            It’s hard to define the conditions and it can depend on thinking ahead, not waiting to see what happens with the weather. Based off these images I can see why racing didn’t happen.

            But it also sounds like the CPA had decided on Monday evening already so Tuesday morning’s images can be ex post justification… or bolstering the decision which ever way we want.

            For me if the riders don’t want to ride because it is wet/cold/ a black cat has crossed the road, it’s on them but someone needs to come forward and explain things rather than have everyone stay in the cars. There was no explanation by the finish either. People will have taken a day off work, spent money on fuel and it’s fair to give them a quick message.

            We have a partial explanation of events from Hansen in a 1am tweet but he writes things like “if that does not invoke the extreme weather protocol, then what does” but the EWP is “the compulsory convening of a meeting between the stakeholders”, not the cancellation.

            If they agreed to do the parade during the EWP meeting but then didn’t then this undermines the EWP (a little, the parade wasn’t much use, it wasn’t racing etc so no need to exaggerate but all the same it weakens trust between sides).

            It all looks insider politics with people in the sport passive-aggressive blaming each other. Which means it’ll probably happen again.

          • @inrng
            To me, that’s not heavy snowing, just compare it with images from actual snow on a race. It’s what you yourself called frosty flakes back then.
            But let’s stick with rules. The EWP meeting happened, only the rest of stakeholders didn’t agree with the riders. Which makes going against what the commission decided a bit of overriding the rules. Ok, menacing an irregular and illegal strike as a struggle strategy can be fine, but then I fully agree with you about it being vested political catfights and other interests, don’t call it safety because it’s insulting.

  22. Fun fact. Read how in 2016 inrng commented about the brand new EWP:

    «You can probably tell the point when snow goes from a few frosty flakes to dangerous but writing it down is another matter. »

    To me, this sounds like our host was assuming that «a few frosty flakes» shouldn’t even be seen as a potential problem. But perhaps I’m wrong…
    Now we’re assuming that any lonely frosty flake would legitimate not racing.
    Also *very* interesting to read the comment section.

    In a few years what sociology would call «the performing» of EWP has already shifted heavily the perspective on the very same situations (even milder ones).

  23. A footnote to the rider protest, listening to Valentin Paret-Peintre speak to RMC Radio, he said while the majority of riders wanted to strike Pogačar might not have been among them. My translation “…I was like a little bit disappointed he didn’t take the riders’ side for the stage that was shortened, he’s cool with other riders but, but [voilà] he’s missing a bit…”. Basically Pogačar is nice with other riders but not the “patron” (boss) of the peloton.

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