No one can stay on their bike at the Giro d’Italia this year. From the roll out in Denmark, it’s been bodies on the road. Mark Cavendish took stage 2 after a crash in the closing 150 meters. Theo Bos lost his front wheel and took out a slew of others. This was after Pink Jersey wearer Taylor Phinney crashed with 8kms to go, and then chased back on to save the shirt.
Stage 3 saw Matt Goss win, but the big story was behind him, where Roberto Ferrari of Androni-Giacottoli made a sudden dart to the right, taking out Cavendish, Phinney and others. It was Phinney’s second time on the ground in two days, and the toll would show on the youngster’s face in the TTT on Stage 4 where he relinquished his leader’s jersey to Ramunas Navardauskas of Garmin-Barracuda.
More bad luck for the American on Stage 5, where he was caught up behind a crash 35kms out, but fought his way back to the lined-out group.
Then it was time for Garmin-Baracuda to get theirs, as Stage 6 saw the abandonment of Tyler Farrar. Thor Hushovd and Roman Feillu got off their bikes too, though the circumstances of their exits was still unclear.
There was an interesting piece about all the pile-ups in today’s sprints on Bicycling.com the other day, touching on some of the themes we hear regularly now. Too much speed, too little respect, the UCI’s stupid rules, all of it contributing to the chaos.
But, what do you think is going on? A year on from Wouter Weylandt’s death, how will top-level racing get safer? Or is this just how it is, a sport for tough guys and girls, willing to sacrifice skin and bone for elusive success? Is this the downside of pro-racing, or is it just part of the entertainment, sick as that may sound?
Thor Hushovd was having a crappy year as world champion until the Tour de France rolled around. He failed to win any of the spring classics, and publicly questioned the tactics of his Garmin-Cervelo team. And then he spent the first week of the Tour covered in yellow glory, even leading out a sprint for Tyler Farrar on July 4th, just in case anyone thought he couldn’t be a team player.
This weekend he’ll defend the rainbow stripes against a tough field in what may or may not be a sprint finish. The Danish World’s course isn’t hard enough to weed out the fast men on its own, with just over 100 meters of climbing on the 14km circuit that makes up the bulk of the race, but the actual line is at the top of a short incline, so that may open the door to a rider like Phillipe Gilbert or Peter Sagan, both of whom can go fast on less than flat run ins.
The odds-makers are still tipping Mark Cavendish to win it all. Can you imagine a more grating world champion than Cavendish? Does this guy need rainbow stripes to bolster his ego. If it gets any bigger, they’re going to have to come up with a new riding position for him so it doesn’t create too much wind drag on his bursts for the line.
Also on the favorites list are Hushovd, his Norwegian teammate Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Spanish veteran Oscar Freire and Aussie fast man Matt Goss, though there are a number of Australian riders who could claim the prize given the right conditions. The weather forecast calls for 64F (18C) and some cloud cover.
Sounds fast to me.
This week’s Group Ride asks: Who do you think will win? Will the Geels Hill finish be enough to derail the lead outs and tip the race in favor of a freelancer? Who are your dark horses?
Image: John Pierce, Photosport International