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Giro d'Italia: it's become survival training

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Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) marks Cadel Evans (BMC)

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) marks Cadel Evans (BMC) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The peloton climb through the snow on stage 15

The peloton climb through the snow on stage 15 (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The peloton climb through the snow on stage 15

The peloton climb through the snow on stage 15 (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Michele Scarponi (Lampre - Merida) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)

Michele Scarponi (Lampre - Merida) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

I had hoped to write something witty and maybe slightly amusing for this blog but given the terrible conditions I couldn't. It seemed disrespectful to what has been happening weather wise and how the race has evolved as a result.

This Giro d' Italia is not really bike racing any more, it's become survival training. When it ought to be about who has the physical ability to still race after a fortnight, on the road the cold and the rain have turned proceedings into a bit of a farce. And I can't imagine anyone connected to the race is finding it funny or remotely enjoyable.

Three, four or five hours of being dowsed in cold water might be half expected in Flanders for something like Het Volk but in a Grand Tour, day after day, stage after stage, it's just brutal.

I'm not surprised Bradley Wiggins and Ryder Hesjedal went home and they might well be the lucky ones after this is over. The Sky rider looked ill at the finish of the stage Cherasco and last year's champion just seemed worn out after his promising start.

They'll both be disappointed at the moment but some things just don't work out as you would like. They won't be missing the frozen feet and hands once they've watched a few freezing cold stages from the safety of their sofas and seen the consequences etched into the guys faces.

I can't imagine many riders will be doing a long ride on the second rest day and if they are ordered out the best thing to do would be to ride for ten minutes, find a nice cafe up a side street and then sit in the warmth until it's time to go back. Even better don't bother with the cycling part borrow a team car.

Mark Cavendish continues to impress me, the win he took on stage 12, the same day Wiggins cracked was earned the hard way, all stage paying attention, always in the right place despite the dreadful conditions and then when you thought he was too far back in the sprint, he takes it up from a long way out and it's game over. Next day same again though Nizzolo got close he wasn't coming past. He really is a tough cookie.
Two days previous to the Cavendish show Ramunas Navardauskas’ win at Vajont saved Garmin's race from being an utter disaster but the ‘get in the break and hope’ tactic is their only option now.

In the big mountains it looks like Nibali will be the one deciding the selection process, I get the feeling that if Evans or Uran can't follow his first acceleration then he'll open up the taps and be gone.

Like at Jafferau when Santambrogio survived and became an ally for the moment, anything similar to that on the next summit finishes and we could see something spectacular.


Robert Millar was one of the last pure climbers of the Tour de France, winning several stages in the mountain stages and finishing fourth overall in 1984. He is also the only English speaker to have ever won the prestigious polka-dot jersey climber's competition jersey.

Millar retired in 1995 but has continued to follow the sport closely. He was often critical of the media and quickly cuts through the excuses and spin to understand why and how riders win and lose.