What's Cool In Road Cycling

GIRO’16 Roadside: The Flat Before The Storm!

PEZ Roadside: Stage 17 and Ed Hood moves on from one set of mountains to bit of flat-land before the next section of climbing cruelty… for the riders. On a transition stage like this you need to take in as much as you can and Ed doesn’t disappoint; bikes, busses and team bosses… and a bit of racing. It’s all roadside.

It’s a funny old sport; this morning in Molveno at the stage start, the IAM team bus got stuck in the damp grass of the bus park and ‘Big Rodge’ Kluge was wandering about like a lost soul, the news that IAM is folding at the end of the year no doubt still going round his head.

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Five hours later – he’d won the stage into Cassano d’Adda! The view from the hotel window wasn’t so hot, this morning. But once I was out for my morning perambulate the photo ops revealed themselves.

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The Sky bus – or ‘Death Star’ – as it’s affectionately known by the other teams looks out of place on the narrow Molveno street. Sky also have two huge trucks with ‘slide out’ sides, a van and at least four cars – with Landa and Viviani out of the race that’s better than one vehicle per rider.

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The BMC vehicles meanwhile look much more at home tucked in among the lakeside town houses of Molveno – but the architecture and food around here have a bit of a Swiss vibe going on.

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Down to the lago and the caravan is just about to roll out; we love the Giro’s own ‘big rig’ – we’re not so sure about the pumping bass tho’ . . .

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And there’s Androni main man, Gianni Savio, sadly his squadra, ‘which always honors the pink race’ isn’t present – those Gazprom Russian boys got their place and won the mountain time trial with Foliforov so no one can argue with the Organization’s decision. Savio refuses to be downcast though; ‘it is a pity we are not here but our new 19 years-old Colombian talent Gomez Bernal just won the Tour of Bihor-Bellotto in Romania and is a great prospect for the future.’

You can’t keep a good man down.

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It’s ‘critique the hardware’ time – Kruijswijk’s Bianchi has contracted some form of skin condition – it’s covered in pink blotches. I guess you have to milk the maglia rosa’s marketing value but we’d never tamper with that beautiful Bianchi ‘celeste’ color which has been their trademark shade since the days of Coppi – and Gimondi in our youth.

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The team bikes all lined up look so much better to us. Continuing on the theme of bikes which do the job but don’t look quite right to us – we love Adam Hansen (Lotto & Australia) but his Ridley Helium, well . . . .

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First, there’s a that saddle position; it reminds us of a motor paced bike’s saddle location – then there’s the downward sloping stem. . . But I guess all Adam would say is; ‘so how many Grand Tours on the trot have you guys ridden?’

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Former Giro winner, Gilberto Simoni is wandering around, unrecognized – but we spot him. It’s a long time since I interviewed him back in his Saunier Duval days – I wonder if he’ll look up Damiano Cunego over at the Nippo bus? That Giro which Cunego won, Simoni was meant to be the team leader.

IAM’s big German, Roger Kluge is looking a bit lost; not surprising since it was announced on Monday that the team was folding – timing we find hard to understand. It would surely have been better to wait a week until the race was finished?

And no day on the Giro would be complete without our daily chat with John Trevorrow over at GreenEDGE; so what happened with Esteban yesterday, John losing that time?

‘He made a mistake, sitting too far back, they slipped away and the seconds were lost. He’s disappointed, I mean he’s still second on GC but he wants to win!’

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John introduced us to Gerry Ryan, the man behind Jayco caravans and GreenEDGE. We asked Gerry if they’d be happy to have Chaves defend his podium place rather than risk everything by going on the offensive?

‘It’s the first time we’ve been in a position to ride for the GC in a Grand Tour so a podium would be great – but Friday and Saturday’s stages go over 2,700 meters and Esteban lives at 2,600 meters so you can figure out what he’s going to do from that !’

We also asked Gerry about the prospect of additional sponsors for the team. ‘We may have something to announce in the next four to six weeks but that’ll be down to our press guy Brian to announce.’

So you may have an additional sponsor in place for the Tour de France? ‘It’s possible!’ You heard it on PEZ first, folks.

Time to go – the first 90 or so kilometers are predominantly downhill, it’ll be fast.

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Look back and the vistas are splendid. The weather is good and there are many teams with nothing to show from this Giro so this could well be one for the breakaway.

The attrition rate for the sprinters continues with GreenEDGE’s big former Giro stage winner, Luka Mezgec not starting, today. He crashed t’other day and a second examination revealed a fractured wrist. Not that GreenEDGE would have chased down the break for him – and it’s one less name for Modolo and Nizzolo to worry about. There’s one categorized climb today, the fourth cat, Passo Sant’Eusebio. It’ll be interesting to get the status quo at that point – it’ll be downhill or flat all the way from the top at 99.5 K to the finish in Cassano D’Adda at 196K. We expect a big break to be clear . . .

The crowd up there isn’t bad at all albeit there’s a bit of ‘aggro’ with newcomers standing in front of those who picked their spot hours ago.

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Motor bikes, helicopters – and just three, the irrepressible Daniel Oss (BMC & Italia), Eugert Zhupa (Albania & Southeast) and Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff & Russia). We’d expected a bigger group . . .

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The gap is around four minutes, not nearly enough – but not surprising with those Lampre boys on the front for Modolo with 100K to go. There’s a Trek or two for Nizzolo – and a Dimension Data for Sbaragli who’s already won a Vuelta stage and against the diluted opposition here could just about pull it off.

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The pink jersey is well up there with his faithful herd crowded around him.

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But we’d like to see Chaves further up the peloton; we know it’s a sprinters’ stage but nonetheless, he should be up near the front and away from danger. Stone last in the peloton is Cannondale’s Simon Clark; it’s not been a great Giro for the men in bright green, thus far.

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Off the back – but obviously chasing back hard after a mechanical – is ‘Giovani’ leader, Jungels paced by Carlos Verona, they’ll be back on sharpish. Time to go, again – we’d like to see how this one ends. For a change we’ve decided to watch the race on the run-in with the peloton in full frenzy. Dave takes us off race route as soon as he can and we battle with the Italian Autostrada system to Treviglio where we’re hurried back on to race route – job done. We hole up at two K to go. . .

We don’t have to wait long; and the break is still clear – just. We’d learn later the three original members were away for 194 kilometers.

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As well as Oss and his two hopefuls, there’s a Lotto, a Katusha and an F des J – but the peloton is moving a lot of air just behind them.

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It’s Ferrari on the front of the string – Lampre are burning him up early today. Pippo is right there, as is Nizzolo but who’ll control it in the last K?

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For all his playboy image with the long hair and laid back attitude, Ferrari is a good rider, knows his job and this huge spell means he won’t be there to guide Modolo through the red kite chaos.

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As we’re still wondering at the speed the peloton whizzed past, a Southeast team car screeches to a halt. The back window is open, I poke the lens in – it’s Luca Scinto, he’s screaming “vai Pippo!” at the dashboard TV which is tuned to the Giro.

There’s an “aaaaaaccccchhhh!” and he screams off. We look at each other?

Some minutes later we stumble into our hotel, the TV is re-running the stage finale. No one is controlling it, Pippo has taken a flyer, Kluge closes him down, jumps him – and wins!

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It’s a funny old sport – and we love it!

ciao, ciao.


It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,100 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.

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