What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro d’Italia 2012: The Presentation!

While the Tour de France presentation is today’s hot topic, let’s not forget about Sunday’s Giro d’Italia presentation. The day after the final Monument of the season and the final major race of 2011, riders, journalists, managers, staff, and luminaries alike arrived to the studio in Milano with surprisingly fresh faces. We were there too…!

We thought we were going to be late. We spent the morning working in Il Perlo high above Lago di Como and Bellagio. The work was coupled with an entertaining chat with Il Perlo’s Carlo, and suddenly, just like that, the morning was gone, the afternoon was upon us, and uh oh, we have almost a 90 minute drive to Milano. Luckily, traffic was light, my foot heavy on the gas, and parking was easy – after a year chasing races, we’ve learned what kind of illegal parking is acceptable.

We rushed up to the doors, hoping we hadn’t missed anything, but realized immediately that we were more than early enough. Outside, Stefano Garzelli chatted on his phone, waiting to make a more stylish (read: late) entrance.

Johan Bruyneel arrived with Dirk Demol and Alain Gallopin in tow. Bruyneel was less than amused when he wasn’t immediately allowed in. The guy at the front scrolled through the names as Bruyneel spelled out his name. It was a comical scene to watch.

Then came BMC DS Fabio Baldato all scarfed up. If you’re wondering – the best way to look like someone associated with professional cycling – wear a scarf.

Right behind, Baldato, and apparently arriving with Baldato was last year’s World Champion, Thor Hushovd – sans scarf. He must have forgotten it at home. Apparently, he’s made the move over to BMC without any problems at all. I’d say that was a seamless transition.

Up next, Mr. Cipollini. The man demands attention, and we are all happy to give it to him.

Paolo Bettini followed behind the Lion King. He looked happy enough for a guy who just got nailed for two million euros in a tax evasion investigation.

Of all the faces, Daniel Martin’s seemed happiest – and why not? The Irish talent finished off his best season yet with a runner-up finish in Lecco in Saturday’s Giro di Lombardia.

While Martin looked just plain happy, newly crowned World Champion, Mark Cavendish, looked positively annoyed at getting mobbed for countless pictures outside the entrance. I can’t imagine the pics the adoring fans got with Cavendish will be loved when they get home.

Of course, then he saw my camera and almost smiled. Or maybe Ashley took this picture. I can’t remember.

Like the Baldato/Hushovd pairing, Cavendish arrived with a future (and former) colleague – Edvald Boasson Hagen. The former Highroad teammates will return to the same stable in 2012 with Sky.

They enter…

Cav’s nearly white get-up stood out in a big way next to the mostly black attire of everyone else. I don’t know if I mean that in a good way either.

Enough about Cavendish – how about Alberto Contador. The man put Cavendish to shame with the attention he received upon entering – and it was not just from fans. Riders, managers, friends, anyone you can think of, wanted a piece of Contador. Look at the hands on him!

Contador and Ivan Basso took up a lively conversation.

Two out of the three Grand Tour winners of 2011 – Alberto Contador (Giro) and Juan Jose Cobo (Vuelta).

Jakob Fuglsang would later field a number of questions on stage relating to the opening three days in his native Denmark in next year’s Giro.

With each passing month, Denis Galimzyanov seems to get faster, better. I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from the young Katusha rider in the years to come.

Damiano Cunego was happy to give Ashley a smile. I think next year’s Giro will appeal to the Veronese, especially considering the time trial happy Tour de France on the menu for July. If Cunego goes for the Giro, he and teammate, Scarponi, will form a formidable duo in the absence of Contador.

Ivan Basso seemed to know everyone he passed – always stopping for a friendly few words and a smile.

Contador fell into deep discussion with his former boss, Bruyneel, as his current boss, Bjarne Riis, stood stand-by.

Igor Anton’s 2011 campaign wasn’t what he had hoped for in terms of Grand Tour GC results, but a stage win on the Zoncolan in the Giro and a stage win at home in the Basque Country in the Vuelta was still quite impressive. Expect more from the young Basque in 2012.

Ah yes, it had to happen. The bright lights focused on the map of the 2012 route. Can we get a star to do some pointing, please? Thanks, Mark.

Oh wait, does it get any better than this? The collected lenses gasped in excitement as Contador showed up to point with Cavendish.

The boxers shake and wish each other a good fight. Or something like that.

Ok, ok, that’s all well and good, but can we get a thumbs up for the route? Thanks guys.

Cavendish turns away from the lights, happy to be done with that nonsense, as Contador enjoys a little more time in the limelight.

Nearing showtime, the riders were escorted off to the side. The 27 riders had their own special section on stage.

The big studio hall was packed.

Each rider was introduced and walked out in between his name in giant font. In the case of Cunego, I think the font was as tall as he is, and well, there’s the split in the name with ‘ego’ on the one side that makes for an amusing glance. Nothing too funny though in the word game department, unfortunately.

Ivan Basso strolls on stage.

Notice: Cav in white, everyone else in black. It wouldn’t be but maybe 15 minutes later that both Cavendish and Boasson Hagen promptly stood up and left the presentation well before it finished.

When the show kicked off in earnest, Alberto Contador was lowered from the rafters in a cylindrical, glittering cocoon of sorts. He emerged out of it, carrying the trophy that likely kept him from Tour de France glory in July. I have to say, I’m happy he was the 2011 Giro champion and not Tour champion. It really worked out nicely, didn’t it? Contador for the Giro, Evans for the Tour.

The presentation paid homage to Wouter Weylandt with an emotional montage, as well as many images sprinkled throughout the presentation.

The scene on stage – 27 riders on the left, with what seemed like the same number of journalists, commentators, ex-pros and the like on the right. After a super fast run through of the stages in the 2012 Giro, riders fielded questions on the route, as did the pundits. Video previews of some of the big stages followed along with the amusing bombshell that the Mortirolo/Stelvio stage would include a section of dirt on the Mortirolo. It wouldn’t be the Giro without some dirt!

Then, when things seemed to be winding down nicely, Girbecco walked out with his keytar and the singing began.

I’ll remember a lot from the presentation, but two things will always stand out: 1. Whoever it was that sang at the end, really put a nice underlining on the festivities. And by nice, I mean, wow, where did the euro-pop glory come from?

And two, and above all #2, realizing that my picture of the Passo Giau, is the main image of the 2012 Giro d’Italia. I saw it flash on screen at one point during the presentation, but didn’t quite believe my eyes. There’s no way…

Then, as we left, I saw people carrying folders and poster tubes. On the folders…my picture. In the poster tubes…my picture.

In one moment, I enjoyed one of the prouder moments in my young photography ‘career’, and in the second, I felt one of the more depressing moments. No one knew that was my picture. There was Contador walking out with it, and Gadret, and Basso, and Ed’s favorite journalist Philippe Brunel, and and and. Everyone was carrying my picture, walking by me, looking at me like I was an idiot standing there dumbstruck as I realized my picture was everywhere.

I’m not mad, not in the slightest. I just hope that our photographic fortunes will turn at some point. They have to, right?

*** As a crucial aside, new top boss at the Giro, Michele Acquarone, apologized for what happened with my picture. We’re working on sorting something out in terms of the picture.

And keep it dialed PEZ for our usually unusual look at the Giro corsa, coming soon.

As always, there’s a lot more on Flickr!

If you want to follow along with the continuing adventures of Jered and Ashley, head on over to Twitter.

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