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10 conclusions from the Giro d'Italia

Barry Ryan and Stephen Farrand
May 27, 2013, 13:21,
May 27, 2013, 14:21
Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, May 27, 2013
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is crowned the 2013 Giro d'Italia winner

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is crowned the 2013 Giro d'Italia winner

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Nibali, Cavendish, Di Luca and the Colombian collectif

Nibali the figurehead of Italian cycling At his post-race press conference in Brescia, almost all of the questions put to Vincenzo Nibali centred around his status as the new figurehead of Italian cycling. The succession of doping scandals since the 1990s means that the sport has been dragged through the mire over the past decade and cycling’s impact on the public consciousness in Italy has diminished dramatically since Marco Pantani’s heyday.

The shy, softly-spoken Nibali is a very different personality to Pantani or Cipollini, but he has been promoted by the Italian media as the leader of a new, more human generation, marking a clean break from the sins of the past. His victory at Tre Cime di Lavaredo certainly inspired the tifosi and boosted television ratings, and the hope now is that his triumph will also boost the number of young riders entering the sport in Italy. For Nibali, great responsibility comes with his new power.

Evans has earned BMC leadership for Tour de France

It’s not as high-profile as Sky’s ongoing Bradley Wiggins/Chris Froome melodrama but the question of Tour de France leadership at BMC has been one of the subplots of the opening months of the season. When Cadel Evans was asked to line up at the Giro at short notice, it seemed as though the Australian was being gently nudged out of the status of team leader for the Tour in favour of the younger Tejay van Garderen, who, after all, finished two places ahead of him last July.

Instead, Evans ends the race with his management reasserting that he is the outright leader for the Tour after he battled his way to the third spot on the podium in Brescia. His sub-par showing in the Polsa time trial will be a concern but Evans can argue that only a mechanical problem at Tre Cime di Lavaredo cost him second overall and he has been making optimistic noises about his chances in France.

Given that van Garderen triumphed at the Tour of California last week, Evans’ showing was a timely one, even if BMC manager Jim Ochowicz insists that his status as leader was always safe. Assuming that he recovers from his exertions, the 36-year-old Evans has earned the right to start the Tour at the helm for BMC, although he will be aware that the road might ultimately decide the hierarchy.

Aggression outside big mountains pays off

When Sky dominated the Tour de France last year by setting the tempo on the front of the peloton in the high mountains and disarming all attacks, it seemed as though the British squad had established a new paradigm for winning grand tours. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over how on earth to stop them from strangling stage races to death for the foreseeable future, but the Giro d’Italia provided an answer of sorts.

Sky’s model is based largely on dictating affairs in controlled environments where brute strength wins out, such as time trials and long mountain passes, so Vincenzo Nibali, Ryder Hesjedal, Cadel Evans et al took the battle to them elsewhere. The Giro’s sinuous opening stages in southern Italy, on rolling roads and sharp descents, were always going to be difficult for any one team to control and so it proved. The guerrilla warfare waged there put Bradley Wiggins on the back foot before the opening time trial.

Illness meant that Wiggins never had the opportunity to try and fight back in earnest on friendlier terrain, but given that Chris Froome’s Tirreno-Adriatico challenge fell apart in similar circumstances – the Sky team was scattered to the four winds on the rugged road to Porto Sant’Elpidio – there is food for thought for those looking to derail their ambitions in July. The roads of the Tour are very different to the Giro, of course, and might not present the same opportunities, but in May, at least, fortune favoured the bold.

Di Luca takes on the Riccò role

Danilo Di Luca’s positive test for EPO brought a world of opprobrium upon him and his team, all of it justified. In the hours after his positive test, various riders took to Twitter to voice their disgust, just as many had done after Riccardo Riccò’s infamous homespun blood transfusion in 2011.

It is deeply encouraging to see that kind of heartfelt and open abhorrence for cheating (it would have been unimaginable a decade ago), but there is also a sense that Di Luca, like Riccò, is an unpopular figure in the peloton and, as such, an easy scapegoat. The fierce criticism one rider unleashed upon Di Luca, for instance, did not tally with an incident at a training camp last season, when the same rider attempted to stop a reporter from asking a teammate questions about his implication in a doping inquiry.

In the media, too, Di Luca – like Riccò before him – took on the role of stock villain or the lone black sheep. For many, he is the doper from an older generation who didn’t understand that the music has changed. One certainly hopes that is the case, but it is an indictment of the certain prevailing cultures in the sport that even now, in 2013, a sponsor was willing to offer a repeat doping offender a place on its Giro team ahead of a younger rider.

Uran confirm his Grand Tour credentials

Rigoberto Uran stepped up to replace Bradley Wiggins as team leader for Team Sky at the Giro d'Italia and ended the race second overall, the first Colombian on the Giro d'Italia podium and confirmed as future Grand Tour contender in his own right.

‘Rigo’ is almost certain to ride for Omega Pharma-Quick Step in 2014 and could target the Tour de France rather than the Giro d'Italia.

Wiggins is set to become a fully blown rival next year but potential problems with teammates could continue. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step domestiques will have to help Uran in the mountains and lead out and protect Mark Cavendish.

Betancur boosts the Colombian collective

Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) often joined forces with Uran in the mountains and ensured that two Colombians finished in the top ten overall in the Giro d'Italia.

With the Colombia team looking to raise its profile in 2014 and perhaps try for a Tour de France wild card place, Colombian cycling is firmly in ascension and set to return to the heady days of the 80s, when Luis Herrara became the first South American rider to win a Grand Tour, landing the Vuelta a Espana in 1987.

The Colombian collective will continue to impress at the Tour de France with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) joint team leader with Alejandro Valverde in July and a possible top five finisher.

Cavendish inspires and inspired by his teammates

Mark Cavendish is often inspired, motivated and driven to success by the hard work and support of his teammates. The harder they work and the more they give of themselves, the more Cavendish lifts his own game.

He is already the best sprinter of his generation and surely closing in on the deserved crown of the best sprinter of all time.

Taking five out of five sprints victories and the red points jersey at the Giro d'Italia was a phenomenal achievement. More importantly, Cavendish has now created and honed a new leadout train at Omega Pharma-Quick Step, which is as good anything he had at Highroad and far better than his difficult year at Team Sky.

Cavendish will go into the Tour de France ready for anything and anyone, including Peter Sagan, Andre Greipel and anyone else who thinks they have a chance in the sprints.

More high mountains in the 2014 Giro d'Italia

This year's Giro d'Italia was hit by bad weather, with rain and snow creating some dramatic racing but also forcing race organisers RCS Sport to cancel the stage over the Gavia and Stelvio and cutting other major climbs from the stages.

However technical race director Mauro Vegni has no regrets about the race route and is ready to challenge Mother Nature yet again in 2014, insisting the race will continue to climb over 2,000 metres.

Italian television viewing figures indicated that the snow-covered finishes attract extra interest. The riders should get ready for more racing in the snow in 2014.

Viva Italia!

This year's Giro d'Italia took another huge step forward as an international race, with the presence of Bradley Wiggins, Ryder Hesjedal and the first ever Chinese rider Ji Cheng attracting even more global interest. Millions of people in Britain, Canada, South American, China and Australia now know more than ever before that cycling has more than one Grand Tour.

The Giro has a modern image but fortunately it has not lost is unique Italian flavour.

The event can be chaotic and occasionally crass but it all perfectly reflects Italy and the Italian lifestyle. The emotions of the race and the affection of the public and the tifosi are genuine. The route is stunning, with the Italian countryside, coastline and mountains offering an inspiring backdrop for the riders to race with emotion.

The Giro d'Italia seems to have shaken off its inferiority complex with the Tour de France and is proud to be different and proud to be Italian. As the tifosi used to proudly write on banners and in banks of snow: Viva l'Italia! Viva il Giro!

Gesink down and out again

With each year Robert Gesink’s grand tour hopes take one step forward but two steps back. This year’s Giro was a prime example. Historically it should have been the first week in which the Dutch climber succumbed with the hair-raising wet descents and the individual time trial. However by the end of the first week Gesink was third on GC and in a prime place to show his class at altitude.

Cue his capitulation as he slipped of the running due to illness and at time poor luck. There was a brief fight back in the third week as the 26-year-old attempted to rescue a top ten place but pulling out with two days remaining was a bitter blow for him and the team. The fact is that Gesink fails to finish almost half the grand tours he starts with the ratio currently at 5 finishes to 3 abandons.

Evan Shaw More than 1 year ago
The clean team of Vino Contador and Armstrong, Vino handing out the trophy. At best there is mixed symbolism here. I am with JV and CCN in that we need unity and a plan to change things. Merely hating or hoping will not suffice.
avantage More than 1 year ago
JV doped like Vino, didn't he?
TheGame More than 1 year ago
No, JV never doped anywhere near as well as Vino.
sideshadow More than 1 year ago
Difference is that JV is repentant, Vino, AC, Valverde, Shleck, not so much..
The Flying Beckana More than 1 year ago
So that make everything ok then! ;-) I raced against Jonny V - like others they were a class above us.... or were they?
Alpe73 More than 1 year ago
Evan, I support any real, significant, observable and measurable improvements that can be made in cycling. Who is and where is CCN? The last press release from them was January 30. Their website purports that they want to be a 'voice of change in cycling.' Their petition has stalled; they haven't been heard from in 4 to 5 months? How credible can they be?
cthenn More than 1 year ago
I wish Cyclingnews was like Youtube, because Evan Shaw and Tommy Knocks' comments would always be hidden. Ironically, your comments are very much like Youtube comments, the bottom of the barrel of humanity, nothing worthy contributed, just the same mantra day after day.
marekonrad More than 1 year ago
One to stress - first time two polish riders in top ten of a Grand Tour!
Andrea Cerri More than 1 year ago
Yes a real strong performance !
geegee More than 1 year ago
If Uran goes OPQS there will be the same conflict with Cavendish and his ego and Uran's mountain stage attempts; as there was with Wiggins and Cavendish at Sky. Even if they bring in Renshaw and a possible other there will be no one to nurse Cavendish in the mountains
Spencer Seow More than 1 year ago
I agree with you with the conflict part. However, who will OPQS give the leadership role to? Cav or Uran? Also, it would be interesting to see both Renshaw and Cavendish being reunited. Personally, I would like to see both of them in the same team again.
Pedal Pusher More than 1 year ago
I'd prefer to see Renshaw supported as the lead sprinter in his own right and not with Cav. At Blanco he was given very little opportunity or support, so it was hard to gauge his true potential. Cav only won the red jersey because many of the mountain stages were removed and thus the parcours more suitable for a sprinter.
FFrenchcyclisme More than 1 year ago
Personally if I really wanted to win le tour de France next year and had to pick a team ,the first team that i would rule out is the Cavendish team.
ubercurmudgeon More than 1 year ago
If Uran goes OPQS there will be the same conflict with Cavendish and his ego undeniable status as the current World's best sprinter, and ability to virtually guarantee the wins that sponsors want, and Uran's mountain stage attempts There, fixed that fit you.
rastymick More than 1 year ago
I think, OPQS would be the best team for Uran as he would be the sole leader for the grand tours and there are some good people that can support him on the flats and in the mountains. Cav isn't such an a** as most people seem to think and I'm sure, a good enough team that suits both riders could be put together. Also, Uran isn't one of the big Ego's in cycling who demands: "wherever I go, I want 8 helpers for me and only for me..." and I'm sure, Cav isn't that guy either.
Murali Parameswaran More than 1 year ago
Uran to OPQS is probably the best thing for opqs, uran and for cav. OPQS lack a proper climber who can push on and on in mountain stages. I know tht they hav a few, but none of them as good as uran. Uran will actually get what he deserves, a leadership role. As for cav, he gets a solid pair of legs for his lead-out train in the flat stages. with cav, renshaw, uran and tony martin opqs might be able to get a good result in both gc and points classification.
Lightening Toke More than 1 year ago
Hmm. Why not this plan for OPQS? Rip up the Tour in 2013 and 2014 with Cavendish. Take Uran to the Tour in 2014.. He gets one or two mountain domestiques. If Uran comes up good as a major GT contender in 2014, build a team around him and go for a Tour win in 2015. Mark's contract ought to end about that time. He can go to another team with no GT contender, or stay at OPQS and sprint by himself at the Tour or sprint elsewhere. I doubt that OPQS hired Cavendish on the condition that he would be their Tour leader for the rest of his career.
chainstay9 More than 1 year ago
OPQS can put together GC focused teams for one week tours and one GT in 2014. If Uran develops as hoped then he gets more support in the TdF. Cav loves to win and he wears his heart on his sleeve but he is not an ego maniac. He was a team player at Sky when Wiggo won, even though he knew and the team knew his talent was being wasted.
Tigerion More than 1 year ago
The difference is most other teams don't need a sky train to strangle races to death. Cav needs maybe 2 people, with some help if required for another couple which leaves Uran with 3 dedicated and 2 part time helpers. The issue is when you have riders like EBH on a team who are not made available as leadout on flat stages because they need to save energy to ride on the front on mountain stages. I really don't think that OPQS will try and sky train to victory
Peter von More than 1 year ago
Cav needs 2 people?!?! He needs at least six, he is by far the number one sprinter in the world , that title comes with a responsibility, if they don't put in the lions share of the work in front of the peloton the other sprintteams will be fed up and start going for break aways instead. Uran to Quick-Step only makes sense in a financial sense, but he would end up like Evans at Lotto with only one helper who might not be of any real help in the end, which could be fine he is after all not one of the top five stage racers in the world, yet, and as such the overall succes of the team would still depend on Cav and the classics team(where Uran would fit in neatly),but if he want's absolute support in the GTs he have to find another,slightly smaller team like AG2R, GreenEdge or maybe Blanco(when they find a new name). Alternatively he could sign with Katousha and hope Purito goes back to riding the Giro-Vuelta double.
Chuck_T More than 1 year ago
Another poster suggested Liquigas as a good place for Uran and his ambitions (can't remember who?) I thought it was a pretty good idea.
Pedal Pusher More than 1 year ago
Liquigas may be a good fit for Uran and perhaps Katusha if Purito focuses on Giro/Vuelta in 2014. OGE may also be a good fit...there are several riders off contract this year but to do Uran justice, OGE would also need to bring on board another very strong climber...perhaps another colombian as there seems to be several v strong columbian climbers around. With Uran at OGE, Cam Meyer could develop more as a GC rider and there's a few other OGE riders, Clarke, who do OK in the mountians.
ACPapageorgiou More than 1 year ago
What I did not like in this Giro: 1) Cav's bullish attitude towards the intermediate sprints: he took them more as a result of discussions and arrangements, than sprints. 2) Betancur's statements after the last mountain stage saying that Saxo Tinkoff should have waited when he had a mechanical (and the race was blown off); a wannabe Sagan? 3) Uran saying that he is not Froome (unless the translation is wrong), 4) Wiggo and his ambitions to lead Sky at the Tour, instead of worrying for his condition and of course 5) Di Luca and his way of making headlines... Otherwise, the Giro was nice!
Raoul Duke More than 1 year ago
(Immense list of problems)....otherwise it was nice..LOL
esnx36 More than 1 year ago
funny thing is that Betancur answered Saxo Tinkoff (and by extension answered your statement) by coming back to the group and passing them all together. IE. who cares, he is that strong
ACPapageorgiou More than 1 year ago
Of course he is strong. He said "They did not wait for me, but I showed them my value"... The statement is what I did not like.. He has time to learn how to control his emotions in front of the press :)
il Magnifico Maria More than 1 year ago
I get sick tired of all these media trained champions. I want to see the emotions:The good, the bad, the joy, the anger, everything. Thats why I like Cav, or the bid whats left of him after hours and hours of media training. Tony Martin is a great rider. But watching an interview with the guy is no fun. But that goes for a lot of pro's these days. All those calculated diplomatic answers, if that how it goes they should skip the post race interviews.
Pete Underdown More than 1 year ago
I hope you enjoy Jens Voigt, and savor what time he has left.
André More than 1 year ago
I agree ++. A 23 y.o "kid" having a flat in the worst moment + bike change later, should, wet and frozen, completely tired (he finished 4, not 2) diplomatically show happiness ? We (I) don't know everything. Why had he to change again his bike ? Did a mechanic of AG2R do a mistake ?- > 2x angry. @ACPapageorgiou : he will learn, / simply be able to accept better deceptions - take in count that he was fighting for the best performance of his life - most TV reporters predicted he would win the stage, and white jersey / N°5 in a GT has for a Colombian much more importance his good rankings in Belgium in Spring 2013.
Cance > TheRest More than 1 year ago
When STB set the pace after Betancur had a mechanical, I actually thought it was okay. The guy had already had one flat, and for how long do they need to neutralize the race. Some might say that STB's pace setting was an attempt to gain revenge on AG2R after they hit Petrov with one of their cars
BriekSchotte More than 1 year ago
I saw quite a bit of this Giro, which will be a memorable race for the conditions, if not for the thrill of fierce contest at the top of the GC. I have never been to a major stage race finish, but wonder if all those who complete the course ever get presented to the crowd, have their moment - maybe just team by team before the main presentations, getting their names read out for the fans present, before the main winners? It would have been appropriate for this year's Giro: every rider who finished it has endured a lot, besides helping make the race. Don't all they deserve their moment?
Raoul Duke More than 1 year ago
Yes it was a great Tour, I think the Giro is much more than a little brother to the TDF.
Hrunting More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure if "figurehead" is the word you're looking for. Maybe "leader," or "standard-bearer"?
RobbieCanuck More than 1 year ago
Ryan and Farrand have hit the nail on the head where they say, " it is an indictment of the certain prevailing cultures in the sport that even now, in 2013, a sponsor was willing to offer a repeat doping offender a place on its Giro team ahead of a younger rider." While several riders may have tweeted their disgust, all that hot air does nothing until riders/teams/sponsors publicly disclose every riders haematocrit levels before, during and after compettion, all in and out of competition drug testing results and all whereabout compliance or failures to comply. Then and only then will the riders earn the cycling public's confidence and trust. The news for example that Trek, who most certainly knew about Armstrong's serial doping is taking over Radio Shack is disturbing. Once againt where is McQuad and the UCI? - as usual in their bunker.
roadrash More than 1 year ago
I agree with everything you say in your post
wigvelo More than 1 year ago
That's the most dishearting thing about the article, some young [hopefully] clean pro who was in the running for the spot that Di Luca took at the last minute, was told that in fact they wont get to ride the Giro. It really is no surprise that they are so many disheatened stagiaire and top amatures who just give up. In my small circle of riders I know of 2. The powers that be need to have a good long look at them selves.
Andrea Cerri More than 1 year ago
We are indeed proud of our Giro and of our country. We welcome all riders and hope you appreciate the "tifo" ( less chauvinist that you'd imagine, come and see). I just need to excuse for some idiots touching the riders and standing in the middle of the road.
PhrediePhly More than 1 year ago
#11 The protocol morphs and lives on to what is thought to be currently undetectable
rainwatrs More than 1 year ago
And the bad doper man tested on 4/29 got caught before the final stages of the event