What's Cool In Road Cycling

Lee’s Giro Roundup Lowdown

The best or craziest Grand Tour of the year (so far) has finished and just like previous stages; it had a rabbit up its sleeve. Lee Rodgers take a good look at the final week and gives us his usual unique view on the 2015 Giro d’Italia. The Roundup of the lowdown.

Shocking, confusing and just plain wrong. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover. I’m not talking about Astana’s attack on the Maglia Rosa when he had to change wheels, nor Contador’s tit-for-tat revenge surge when Landa got stuck behind a crash, nor about the price Sky are asking for Richie Porte’s caravan on Ebay.

The palaver I’m on about was on Oleg Tinkov’s head.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 21Pink hair Oleg… really?

Tinkov’s hair was so shock-worthy that it sent Colle della Finestre-size shockwaves through the cycling world and almost broke Twitter. He’s not shy that one is he? Or was he just sending a coded message to Bjarne Riis?

riis-tinkoff-1-620Their kissing days are over

“I was walking past a hairdressers after we ate dinner on the penultimate day, they had a Silver Citizen special, pink for 50% off, so I went for it,” he didn’t say that, but I really wish he had. Just another bizarre event in just about the most bizarre Grand Tour in years.

Possibly ever?

We should start with the Contador vs. Landa debate. Why not Aru? I think we all know who really came second here and I also am convinced Aru would never have won two stages nor come second overall if his team management hadn’t first not re-signed Landa and then, realizing he was off to another team (Sky are rumored to be in the lead) and taking points and kudos with him, commanded him to slow down for the baby albatross that is Aru.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 8The baby albatross needed to look over his shoulder

Landa, we should remember, lost 4 minutes to Contador in the ITT on Stage 15 and came in 52nd place. What happened there? I’ve asked around and have received no answer other than that he might have been saving himself, which I think doesn’t make sense.

He must have known the legs he had and though that was the day Aru blew the Pink (quieten down there at the back), why risk a top 5 finish to save a bit of energy to help someone else win? On a team you’re leaving anyway?

giro15st15-landa-win-620Mikel Landa: Sky’s the limit

He does seem to be a perfect teammate though, judging by the way he hung back both times he got the call to stop and wait for the Italian. On the penultimate stage Sean Kelly said something that sounded like “We could be watching history here!” but it could have been “We should be watching Waterford Down”, but either way, the rabbit was pinned in the hole and the hound was ready to snap.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 12Happy Fabio

And then… tail between his legs, he sulked out and allowed Aru to take the stage when he was clearly the stronger of the two. Whether Bertie would have lost all his precious minutes is a moot point (he probably wouldn’t have in all fairness), but it would have been something to see him really being tested.

So, Bertie wins three – according to him.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 21Three?

“For me, I won that Giro d’Italia, all the people who have watched it on TV, including people who followed me, agree,” Contador explained. “That’s why I held up three fingers. All the riders know I won; no-one has ever said the opposite.” Should I bother disagreeing with this statement or not? All I will say is that not everyone actually agrees on that score, Bertie.

Always fascinated me just how generally poor Contador’s teams are. Time and again the commentators would say in surprised voices ‘…and Contador is on his own again!’ without ever referencing the fact that he usually doesn’t need them. This time he could have done with a rider being there after Rogers had popped. Strange though how he’s never been undisputed leader of a super-team, however.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 15Berty on his own again

One of the great moments of the final week and indeed the whole race was one I completely missed – the final 30km of the 3 week Giro. We all know how these things go right? A few guys get away and then there’s some faffing about and then the sprinters’ trams start cranking it up and then boom, the break is caught and a fast man wins.

Except, none of that happened. I mean they tried, they just didn’t manage to reel Iljo Keisse and Durbo le Tirbo in, and what a pair to have flying out front with a lead like that. I thought that their embrace immediately after the race was the highlight of the whole event actually. They’d both contributed hard and fairly, with no quarter asked nor given, and then they’d sprinted it our fairly too.

Giro d'Italia 2015 ST21A good move for Keisse and Durbo

Good thing Keisse did win as it was a bit of a shocking Giro for the EQS boys all in all, what with Uran’s collapse. Quite intriguing is the Colombian, hot one month then cold for lot more. What Durbridge was thinking, getting himself in the lead-out position against a track monster like Keisse is another matter however, but we’ll let him off for that one.

Another highlight of the Giro was the ride by the young man Kruisjwijk. As ever, let’s hope he’s doing it ‘the right way’ but what a performance, and it was heartwarming to hear him say that he’s planning on donating one half of his shoulders to the Katusha rider Zakarin.

Giro d'Italia 2015 ST21Is the hanger still in that jersey?

I’m surprised Zakarin doesn’t slip down the plug hole he’s that skinny. I seem to remember once there being a whole lot of brouhaha about something called ‘power-to-weight’ ratio. Remember that? It’s so 6 years ago, apparently…

giro15st11-zakarin-finish-620Young Zakarin trying to make his shoulders look bigger

And that wraps up a quite amazing Giro d’Italia 2015. I tell ya, this stuff it’s like crack. You know it’s bad for you but you can’t help it. Glued to every single day I was – apart from… yeah.

Right, best get my compression suit on, some R&R needed – bring on le Tour!

Lee Rodgers is a former professional road racer on the UCI Asia Tour circuit now racing MTB professionally around the world. His day job combines freelance journalism, coaching cyclists, event organizing and consulting work. You can keep up with his daily scribblings over at www.crankpunk.com.

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