Why change the Milan-Sanremo route?

sprint sanremo

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”
Il Gattopardo, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

Unlike the riders who gradually get more and more tired, those of us viewing the race on TV get more and more energised as the finish line approaches. There’s now talk of changing the route. This is normal.

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Sunday shorts

Gerrans wins Milan-Sanremo but the clip above is an illustration of the teamwork and success being enjoyed by all. Expletives are beeped out and at times the soundtrack is like Morse Code as riders and managers alike share the moment.

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Strade Bianche, the modern race that’s a classic

Our sport has its classic races. Some are more than 100 years old, for example Liège-Bastogne-Liège was first run in 1892. Over time they’ve developed legends and histories that go a long way to make the sport what it is today. Sometimes a new race comes along and the organisers struggle to make it work. They could do well to learn the lesson of the wonderful Strade Bianche race which takes place today, combining local history with a free internet video stream.

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Giro wildcard invitations

RCS, organisers of the Giro d’Italia and other major races have announced the wildcard invitations for 2012. The 18 World Tour teams* are invited automatically, leaving the organiser to pick four teams to complete the list of teams. The idea is that the elite teams ride the biggest races but organisers are free to invite some extra teams, to bring in some more domestic riders or to ensure some exciting riders outside of the top teams can ride and bring something extra.

The four teams opening the prosecco today are Androni Giocattoli-CIPI, Colnago-CSF Inox, Farnese Vini-Selle Italia and Team NetApp.

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2012 Giro d’Italia route unveiled

2012 Giro

5 – 27 May 2012. The route was leaked but unlike the Tour de France people were not talking about the Giro as much last week, perhaps because fewer details emerged via the leak and also because RCS, the Giro organisers, had already printed some information the Gazzetta dello Sport, their house journal.

Yesterday saw the route unveiled in a TV-friendly format. There was a tribute to Wouter Weylandt and news that the race number 108 is retired from the competition in memory of the Belgian rider who passed away on the Passo del Bocco.

We had an audience of officials, journalists and riders and, being Italian TV, two models in pink dresses accompanying the ribbon-shaped Trofeo Senza Fine, the “trophy without end”. And to top this a giant mirrorball was lowered on to the stage and Alberto Contador stepped out from the dazzling cage to perform Sylvester’s “You Make me Feel Reel”. Actually, I’m joking… but only about the song as the defending champion did emerge from a mirrorball.

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Wielerleaks, when a leak is better than a drip

Tour presentation

Yesterday saw the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia routes leaked on to the internet. Conspiracy or cock-up?

Both races like to unveil the route at a set-piece presentation, the chance to showcase the event, to explain the route and construct a narrative around the route to unite the stages into a three week story. For example in 2010 we had the celebration of the Col du Tourmalet and the Pyrenees in general, 2011 saw the same in the Alps thanks to the Col du Galibier. This year’s Giro d’Italia celebrated 150 years of Italian unity. We’ll see what the message for 2012 is on Sunday for the Giro and the following Tuesday for the Tour.

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What next for the Giro d’Italia?

The Giro, never again.

So says Alberto Contador. You can probably hear the prosecco corks popping in the Nibali household. Despite winning the Italian tour this year, the Spaniard says he’s never going back to the race. But “never say never” is valuable advice for those making statements in public and we’ll see what the future brings.

It’s the future of the race that is due to change with the race organiser Angelo Zomegnan getting ejected from the role following behind-the-scenes issues with cancelled stages and more, although Zomegnan is staying on to advise. Michele Acquarone is the new boss. The 2011 race was something many riders don’t want to repeat. Stage 15 of this year’s race featured more vertical metres than Switzerland’s week-long Tour of Romandie. Several riders admitted to being scared of the race.

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The Giro d’Italia is bigger than Everest

Swiss scenery

Let’s play word association. When I say “Switzerland”, what do you think of? Punctual trains, chocolate, hard currency and secret bank accounts? Cheese, cows and yodelling?  I bet mountains are an obvious thought, whether for the skiing or the postcard images of lush Alpine pastures. So when you think of the Tour of Romandie, you tend to think of a stage race for climbers. Romandie is the French-speaking area and like the whole Swiss confederation it has plenty of mountain passes.

More precisely the 2011 Tour of Romandie has 6,100 vertical metres of climbing (~21,000 feet). Despite several first category cols and plenty more other climbing, whether categorised or not, this is not the most mountainous edition of the race. Still, there are six days of racing with the prologue and you can’t escape the hills. But all this is less than one single day of mountain madness in the upcoming Giro d’Italia.

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If the UCI can’t mediate, someone else has to

UCI President Pat McQuaid opened the meeting… …He then informed the CCP members of the reason for the absence of Messrs Jonathan Vaughters and Gianni Bugno, who had been formally invited to choose between participating in the meeting and standing by the AIGCP and CPA in their threat to launch boycotts and strikes against the proposed ban on the use of earpieces during races.

You might think this is from George Orwell’s 1984, a confusing text from Franz Kafka or maybe the notes from of a Soviet Praesidium, as presented by spy novelist John Le Carré. Alas the text above is no fiction but a real statement issued today by the UCI.

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The Giro d’Italia to be re-routed?

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, known as il Risorgimento, “the Resurgence”. 150 years ago this week the citadel of Gaeta, about halfway between Rome and Naples, surrendered after a two month siege and King Vittorio Emanuele II proclaimed the nation unified. The 2011 edition of the Giro d’Italia promises to … Read more