Wednesday, 23 May 2012
It's Giro Time!
For me, this year, the Giro has seemed quite tame. Yes, there have been some great breakaways, some spectacular sprint finishes and some gruelling mountain ascents, but there is something lacking. Compared to the drama of last year’s edition, any tour would seem tame, but for me, this edition has definitely been impacted by the lack of the really big names.
I love watching cycling races where all the big names are there, when everyone is racing to their full capacity, and the one that wins can truly call themselves the best. Unfortunately, because of the way the Pro Tour is set up, the winner of the Giro wont be able to say this. Everyone knows that the race would play out very differently if Andy Schleck was there, or Evans, Sanchez, Van Den Broeck, Wiggins, Nibali, or even Cobo.
The cycling diehards out there will tell me that this is the way it’s always been, and that no true Tour de France GC contender would dare taking a chance on the Giro, in fear of burning themselves out. I know this and I get it. I’m just saying that for the spectator, some of the thrill is lost when the big names are absent.
I suppose this is one of the reasons why the Tour de France is the biggest race in the world – it attracts the best of the best.
Anyhow, we are now at the pointy end of the race. Cavendish has once again asserted his dominance and taken three stages (and possibly a forth tonight). I was ecstatic to see Gossy pick up a stage win, edging out some of the best sprinters in the world to claim the first Giro stage win for Green Edge. Current race leader, Rodriguez, has taken two dominating stage wins and we’ve seen some brilliant solo victories (in particular from Amador and Rabottini). Taylor Phinney’s domination of the stage one ITT was also a huge highlight, 8.7km’s in 10 minutes and 26 seconds – that’s an average speed of over 50 kmph!
Tonight we should see Cav take his fourth stage win on a relatively flat and short stage 18, and confirm his hold on the green jersey. We will then see the main protagonists of the GC fight it out in the ridiculously hard mountain stages 19 and 20. I never thought he would be able to do it again, but Basso is looking really strong and is a good chance to take his third Giro. Scarponi and Rodriguez are strong chances as well – though they will need to attack fiercely to take some time gaps that will see them safely through the final time trial.
My money? Well that’s on Hesjedal. The big Canadian has a fire in his eyes that screams of his desire to take the overall win. If he can minimise his losses in the next few days he should be able to take the win in the final time trial.