By Gregor Brown in Plan de Corones
Italy's Enrico Gasparotto, six minutes back on the Giro d'Italia's stage to Plan de Corones, was not impressed with the mountain time trial on Monday, 12.9 kilometres from San Vigilio di Marebbe. He insisted that the rules of cycling need to be changed to avoid such a stage.
"It is too hard. It is not a normal day. It is impossible," were the words of 26 year-old Gasparotto to Cyclingnews after his run up to Plan de Corones. "This stage is not cycling, if it was on a mountain bike then okay. This is a ski pass, not a road for cycling."
He leveled his complaints at RCS Sport, "I would like to give [Angelo] Zomegnan a bike, tell him to come and race this."
Fortunately, unlike in 2006 when the a road stage to Plan de Corones was cancelled, the weather has tilted in the riders' favour. "It is lucky it has not rained so much these days. The road was okay, but it is not road cycling.
"We must change the rules. We do anti-doping controls -- what they want -- but this type of racing is impossible. And tomorrow, a rest day, and four-hundred kilometres. The team drives tomorrow morning, we stay here tonight."
Race Director Zomegnan noted it was a way to test the riders' limits and put on a great show for the fans.
"Have a look around," said the Italian from Erba to Cyclingnews in Plan de Corones. "This is a countryside that does not exist in the world and cycling races need to exist to show off the countryside. It is too bad there is not sunshine – [imagine] if there was sunshine today."
According to Zomegnan, the stages in the Dolomites are beautiful displays of cycling and serve to show off the sport that has been dragged through the mud. "I think that we need spectacular shows in cycling to pull ourselves out of this mediocrities. Without something spectacular it would be normal, and this is something is extra."
He noted that the riders had a chance to test the parcours, 5.3 kilometres, which are on sterrato ('gravel'). "All of the riders came here on April 30 -- Di Luca, Simoni, Riccò, Bruseghin -- and they said it was a new way of testing the athletes' limits and this is an accurate interpretation according to me. And we have to stop here, maybe the limit is here, nothing more."
Zomegnan noted that the rest day involved nearly four hours in the car from the Dolomites to Sondrio, in the Alps. "Tomorrow is a day of rest and half the distance of a transfer on the last day of the Tour de France," said Zomegnan with a smile. True, but the riders in the Tour de France took a TGV from Angoulême to Marcoussis, where as tomorrow the riders face a mountainous run in the back of a team bus.
"The Giro is like this, who wants to do it can come here and who does not can stay at home," Zomegnan concluded.