Shots fired at the Giro d’Italia, finally
There have been a few exciting moments at this Giro: Taylor Phinney taking the pink jersey in the prologue; blows traded by Rodriguez and Hesjadal as they juggled the pink jersey; and an-against-the-odds win by Rabottini.
But for the most part, this has been a boring Giro; until now.
A close GC typically means that riders will attack each other to try to gain precious seconds and perhaps with them the leader’s jersey. But as we entered the mountainous stages, no one was making a move.
Every day I tuned into the Giro hoping to see riders being protagonists, attacking, trying to take the race into their own hands, only to be disappointed by the same picture, day in and day out – Liquigas on the front setting the pace for Ivan Basso.
Sure, that was Basso’s plan – grind it out and see how many drops- so I can’t blame him. But what’s Scarponi’s excuse? Or Rordriguez’? While he holds pink, he knows very well that the time he had on Hesjadal heading into this week would not be enough on Sunday in the TT.
Why was Kreuziger sitting quietly? In hindsight, he lost the most of all the riders. Had he been more aggressive, perhaps he would not have popped as hard on stage 17, losing 11 minutes.
Today he clearly demonstrated he had the legs to hold off a charing Hesjadal. Maybe an early attack on stage 17 would have helped him keep his GC position.
As stage 19 unraveled and the GC favourites were all clustered together with 5km to go, I was ready to throw my hands up in the air and spit in disgust at the negative racing.
Luckily, Scarponi realised that sitting on Basso’s wheel was not the way he would move up the podium. He attacked.
Hesjadal countered and put in an attack of his own that ultimately resulted in a 13-second gain on Rodriguez and even more time on Basso.
The finish of stage 19 was what I was hoping to see in many of the past mountainous stages. That’s what we got to see last year, with Contador fighting it out with the rest of the field. That’s what we saw in the Tour de France, with Schleck going on the attack and Cadel Evans’ persistence finally cracking Alberto Contador.
The battles of last year’s grand tours make Giro 2012 seem like a duel and not so Grand: take 12 paces, turn, fire – very predictable, very boring, very methodical and what’s most frustrating is that today Basso clearly demonstrated that it is also ineffective.
I understand, that as spectators, we are not the ones climbing 17 thousand feet in one day. It is much easier to direct the riders’ actions from the comfort of one’s couch. But as spectators, we want a protagonist for whom to cheer, we want to support a rider who will go out there and win a race. Not the one who will go out there and not lose.
While the end result may be a distinction without a difference, it is the process that will keep bringing us back to the screen and out to the roads to watch our favourite riders do what they do best.
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Video produced by Riordan Lee.