What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro d’Italia Preview: “Da Contendas”

It’s that time of year again where the strongest men around will be head to toe in pink. And one would hope we will see the best battles played out with our heroes flying across the finish line with arms raised, rather than flying, ass-first, out of hotel room windows or causing other riders to fly head first into barriers and worst of all, being escorted, arms raised, by the local police who seem more content at standing around posing for pictures and making speeches than they do in actually finding anything truly solid (though catching Frigo with drugs so new they weren’t approved for human consumption was a nice one…).

This year’s Giro is one to watch for many reasons, several of which have a little less to do with the race itself, and a little more to do with personal and organizational battles.

The favorites are who they have been for the last 3-4 years…

Older And Wiser?
Dario Frigo will be strong and hopefully will know better than to hide his stash in the same room as he sleeps (something we all could learn from Mercatone?).

Francesco Casagrande will hopefully stay out of the big house and not have a punch up with anyone having the balls to get up the mountain ahead of him.

Uomini di Montagne
Caucchioli might have another go and could surprise us, and let’s not forget Julio Perez Cuapio! Watching that Charging Chihuahua fly up the mountains is just plain fun (although I liked him better with a mouth full of broken teeth, but I am sure it’s more comfortable for him now) and whether his team is there, or explodes in another doping deluge won’t matter a bit! Here’s to another King of the mountains as the most entertaining thing to come along in quite a while.

Faster Than A Runaway Mouth
Speaking of entertainers, I hope Cipo has a new World Champion’s edition MotoGP spine protector and Mouthguard to go along with that cool lid, as Robbie McEwen will hopefully be on form and ready to head-but, elbow and complain (did I see him pull out a pipe wrench on Zabel?) his way around, ala the worlds (note the guy can also pedal a bike). Robbie’s early season has not been up to par, so he should have plenty of motivation. Petacchi and Fassa will also be ready to rumble and, given that this year a few lesser teams make the field with the retreat of the Spanish armada, the mix ups on the flats could be the best thing about this Giro.

Missing Links?
Savoldelli will be missing, assigned to a Telekom team that is concentrating on the Tour. Marco Pantani hopefully won’t miss the first chance to race while not being investigated (I think). And crappy loss to the Giro is a storming Tyler Hamilton, who won’t be lining up as CSC has selected to focus on the Tour 1st, Vuelta second. It would have been nice to see if the combination of better form and staying upright would have given him the goods (especially if all the contenders stay in the race this year!

Something To Prove
Two guys who should have all the incentive they need to do huge damage are Gilberto Simoni and Stefano Garzelli.

Simoni is a hard strong man, and the favorite. And I am sure will not be accepting gifts from his extended family, and if he does have a bit of a cold, he will not be looking for any medicinal Candies from Grandma.

Stefano Garzelli’s situation was simply a heart breaker. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in the shape of your life and get popped for something you didn’t do (same goes for Simoni, but Garzelli lacks hooligans for some of his supporters and thusly gets more sympathy). His positive test was just ridiculous. The drug was absolutely useless and is commonly known as extremely easy to test for (the equal to having a flashing sign that says “I dope” mounted to your forehead). That combined with the fact that it was small trace elements make me believe that someone gave him the cycling version of a brown bottle… Garzelli is top a notch person and would be whether he rode a bicycle or not. Given his personality and history, it just stings more when it happens to a Garzelli…

For Italians Only
The last bit of interest will be with whether RAI sport will decide to continue to cut off its nose to spite its face and charge a reasonable amount, rather than a Kings ransom, for broadcast rights in other countries. It would seem that with The Giro being more noted for the people kicked out than the people winning, that RAI may want to help the race regain some lost credibility by making the broadcast more affordable. I am sure that a reduced amount received from Spanish TV would be better than the zero they will get now, and the product they are selling (the Giro Its self) will be of poorer quality without the likes of ONCE et al. As it stands though, they may feel they have a premium product given all the drama that happens off the road… Still I am not sure that trying to capitalize on the Giro as the sporting version of the Jerry Springer show is the way to go.

Speaking of no Spanish coverage…
Let us not forget Aitor Gonzales… The Fassa er Domina er Yeah, Fassa Bortolo monster will be fun to watch. I believe he will be following rather than breaking team orders this time, should he decide to stomp up the mountains and through the TT’s. Wouldn’t it figure that a Aitor would win during a Spanish Boycott and blackout???

A good course, and all the subplots make for a scorching Giro this year. Here’s hoping all the drama gets played out on the road!

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