The Giro and Gelato

5:30 AM

Like most Americans my age I became aware of cycling through the 1986 Tour de France as we watched Greg LeMond win despite the best efforts of his team and the constant attacks of teammate Bernard Hinault.  Greg lives in Minnesota, and you can still see many spandex-clad cyclists (including the Spouse) zipping around on LeMond cycles.  Even though I would strictly remain a runner for the next 20 years, I became a dedicated Tour spectator in ’86 – watching with rapt attention the weekly re-caps on Sunday afternoons.

Other cycling events didn’t really exist in my world as a teen, but with the advent of streaming video and my growing interest in all things two-wheel related I’ve now become addicted to all the cycling events: the Spring Classics, the Giro, the Vuelta, the World Championships, and World Cup CX and XC.  (Seriously, love the new world we live in where I can watch Danny Hart’s amazing “how does he sit down with balls that big?” run at the 2011 World Championships whenever I want!)

I may have started out as a lover of the Grand Boucle, but in the past few years the Giro has really been a more interesting race to watch.  The Tour gets weighted down with all the tradition, heavy expectations which result in intricate plotting which result in predictable results (though Tommy V did his best to mess that up last year), and Phil Liggett’s increasingly annoying and repetitive commentary (“turning himself inside out” anyone?).  But the Giro has managed to stay fresh, present interesting and diverse stages, and become a showcase for new and emerging talent along with established GC riders.

This year’s Giro has been a great race to watch.  Though they have stepped back from the dramatic ups and downs of last year’s route (perhaps learning a lesson from the Wouter Weylandt tragedy), we still have seen stages that demand different strengths and tactics.  We have had something like eight different first-time stage winners, and several dramatic changes in the pink jersey.  My only complaint is that the sprint stages seemed to be designed to heighten the possibility of crashes, thus endangering a lot of riders for the crowd’s pleasure.  And, of course, I watched every crash over and over on the replay (did he really just bunny hop Cav?!)…

And so I am finishing every day with gelato and the Giro – cheering on any rider willing to take a risk (Rabottini’s successful break away, definitely a highlight, and his miserable pain face the next day makes me think he might even be drug free!), and anxiously awaiting the crowning of the first major tour GC champion of the year (go Ryder!)…

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