Giro d’Italia 2013 Preview

Arguably the most spectacular and visually stimulating of the three Grand Tours the 96th edition of the Giro d’Italia has been described as a hybrid route which transcends the boundaries between a wholly climbers race and a TT specialist’s. Last year’s Giro was perhaps the most stimulating of all Grand Tours with a surprise but worthy winner in Ryder Hesjedal and this year’s looks to emulate that with a dramatic race from Naples to Brescia over 3405 kilometres.

The stellar cast of riders including last year’s Maglia Rosa, Tour winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, recent Giro Del Trentino victor Vincenzo Nibali and a host of other contenders for the General Classification including Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso(!), Michele Scarponi, Samuel Sanchez and Robert Gesink certainly whets the appetite for a fine race to Brescia on the 27th of May. This coupled with sprinters Mark Cavendish, Nacer Bouhanni, Matthew Goss, Sacha Modolo and Roberto Ferrari ensures that this will be a delight of a race from start to finish.

The ebb and flow of a stage race is perhaps no more in evidence than at the Giro. This coupled with the fantastic landscape theatre in which it is played out in, ensures that it is a delight to view. The stage profiles suggest the route builds through the first two weeks (as any good Grand Tour should) to the final few outrageous mountain stages over the Passo Gavia, the Stelvio and the Passo Giau. Stages 4, 7 and 9 are the ones to definitely tune in for early on the race with a nice mix of terrain to suit both puncheurs and overall contenders keen to steal an early march on their opponents. Stage 7 to Pescara and its important port and marina is sure to excite typical breakaway specialists but the terrain could promote a sprint at a push and is likely to stir John Degenkolb’s Argos Shimano and Nacer Bouhanni’s FDJ team into action.

 

The route of the 2013 Giro

The route of the 2013 Giro

 

The key aspect of the majority of the mountain stages, back loaded into the second and third weekend, is their relatively short length. Take for example Stage 15, Sunday 19th May where the race heads over the Mont Ceris and then the Telegraphe before the final, tougher ascent to the Col Du Galibier the opposite side to Andy Schleck’s 60km solo escape to win Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France; a stage which is only 149km long and will undoubtedly be raced rapidly from the off. By the start of stage 20 we may well already know whether Bradley Wiggins has coped with the steeper Italian ascents in comparison to the long steady climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees, and perhaps more importantly whether Team Sky’s mass on the front riding has worked to the extent that it has done in the past. So, as the road rises to Tre Cime Di Lavaredo a final nail may have been hammered into Wiggins’ coffin by messers Nibali, Betancur, Pozzovivo and Sanchez.

To finish; some (ill-informed and widely speculative) predictions. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mauro Santambrogio going well in the GC, if only for a top 5 or top 10. Moving to Vini Fantini from BMC at the end of 2012 has reaped its rewards for the 28 year old Italian, with 7th at Tirreno Adriatico and 2nd at the Giro Del Trentino . Certainly his team isn’t as strong as the other overall favourites, his Grand Tour form isn’t spectacular, and I’m not convinced by his time trailing capabilities (76th and 54th in his two ITT’s this year), but the Giro more often than not throws up a surprise contender.

The changing of the GC guard is evident in the fact that old powers like Ivan Basso, Cadel Evans and Michele Scarponi aren’t getting any younger and in the early to mid stage of the decent of their careers. The nearly man Robert Gesink could go close if on top form and he avoids crashes and if not him or Santambrogio then certainly Benat Intxausti looks well placed for a Top 10 finish. Finishing 10th last year at the incredibly difficult Vuelta, perhaps marked a breakthrough for the 27th year old. Whether he will ride for JJ Cobo, the Vuelta winner of 2011 remains to be seen but certainly his form has been building nicely since an 8th in the overall at the Tour of the Basque Country and 4th at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta. He can time trial too, which could help limit his losses in the mountains.

Meanwhile, Wiggins’ form, although not as spectacular as last season, certainly looks solid with an ill-timed mechanical arguably the only difference between himself and Vincenzo Nibali at the Giro Del Trentino. He also looked comfortable on the steeper climbs that epitomize Trentino and his time trialing will have undoubtedly remained flawless. Ryder Hesjedal looked mean and lean in Liege Bastogne Liege although his prevalence as an overall contender opposed to last year could be his undoing.

As ever there will be Italians who emerge into the spotlight of the wild Tifosi as Matteo Rabottini did last year so spectacularly. Stefano Pirazzi is sure to be one to watch for attacking in the mountains along with the ever excitable Vacansoleil, the wonderfully entitled Vini Fantini and the other Pro Continental outfits of Team Colombia, Androni-Venezuela and Bardini Vavole – CSF Inox, who are sure to animate things from the off.

My Giro d’Italia Top 5:-

  1. Vincenzo Nibali
  2. Bradley Wiggins
  3. Ryder Hesjedal
  4. Robert Gesink
  5. Mauro Santambrogio

Stage Win – Stefano Pirazzi

White Jersey – Wilco Kelderman

Fingers crossed for a passionate, exciting and unpredictable Giro!

 

An Insider Look Into What It Means To Be Teammates on BMC Racing

 
This month at CyclingShorts.uk.com I’m bringing you an exclusive, we’re excited to feature a great article by my friend Fitzalan Gorman from www.usprocyclingnews.com She caught up with the riders of BMC Racing to get their thoughts on teammates and how that will play a part in their continued success on the world circuits of the UCI Pro-Tour.

Cristi.
 

American Riders on BMC Racing: Larry Warbasse, Taylor Phinney, John Murphy, George Hincapie show off 2011 team colors at Spain Press day - Image ©Copyright Fitzalan Gorman/ usprocyclingnews.com

 

Training camp is often the only time of the year that all riders, directeur sportifs and staff are all together in the same place. While officially it is work, these few weeks are the calm before the storm that is the long professional cycling season. At the end of January, BMC Racing held its training camp along the Spanish coastline near Denia. This area has fairly quiet roads with lots of options including flats and undulating, hilly terrain. While here, I got a chance to talk with various members of BMC Racing to find out a little more about the teammate side of cycling.

Cadel Evans and Tim Roe at Press Day in Spain 2011 - Image ©Copyright Fitzalan Gorman/ usprocyclingnews.com

So what do you think of your new teammates?

Brent Bookwalter: “These guys add a certain level of class and experience to the team. Many of the new guys have serious Grand Tour experience and are veterans at the pro tour level in both age and experience. I’m rooming with Ivan Santaromita. We are the same age, he was born in 1984, but he has been racing in the pro tour longer than I’ve been racing road bikes. Guys like that, guys who have been around the block, are very capable, classy and accomplished riders and there is a lot of depth there.”

Cadel Evans“I’m rooming with Yannick Eijssen. He has so many questions and is so motivated. I can only hope that I am giving him good advice. Along with Tim Roe, I hope that I can help develop these young riders better. I’m also excited about having Manuel Quinziato for the Tour de France. He will probably have the biggest influence on my results.”

What do you think of your mentorship with Chris Butler?

George Hincapie: “I have a bit more mentorship role with Chris than with the other riders because I train with him all the time. He has a ton of potential. He had one of the highest watts per kilo at camp for this time of year, which I was excited about. He needs to learn how to ride in the peloton and how to ride on the flats, but when it comes to his climbing, he is definitely world class.”

George Hincapie at BMC Press Day interview in Spain - Image ©Copyright Fitzalan Gorman/ usprocyclingnews.com

As a rookie, how do you take advantage of the wealth of experience offered from your veteran teammates?

Chris Butler: “I definitely try to soak it all up. I live 2 kilometers away from George in Greenville, so I am definitely biased towards him but there are so many resources on this team. I feel like Karsten Kroon can ride a bike better than anyone else in the peloton. I just want to follow him around and learn all of that information.”

BMC Racing feels different from so many other pro tour teams: There is no other agenda here other than racing. Do you feel this way?

Brent Bookwalter: “Obviously the objective here is to win and to get results but I think we are really fortunate that our head sponsor, Andy Rihs, the head management, Jim Ochowicz, and the heads of this team are not “win at any cost” kind of guys. They place a lot of value in creating a team more than just bodies pursuing results. They are creating a real family with the hopes that true results will arise from that. I feel that we are fortunate to be in this type of environment over one that demands winning.”

John Murphy“I feel that if you took the same group of guys, and put them first in a situation that demanded they win, and then you put them in a situation where the team provided everything they needed in terms of products and support, 9 times out 10, the supportive environment is where the riders will succeed. I think it is the best approach to anything competitive. Demanding winning isn’t the right psychology.”

Many hours are spent riding for someone else. Tell me a little bit about the mental side of riding in support of one of your teammates.

Brent Bookwalter: “Whether it is George, Karsten, Cadel or anyone else on this team, you step up. I think anytime you care about a person, on a personal level–more than just a coworker level – there is a greater incentive; there is more at stake than career success. There is personal success because you can honestly be happy about that person stepping up on the podium at the end of the race instead of yourself.”

How hard is it to put your personal agenda aside to support your teammates?

John Murphy in Spain at BMC Press Day - Image ©Copyright Fitzalan Gorman/ usprocyclingnews.com

John Murphy: “You work for the team and know that you will get your time. It has to go both ways and it is a constantly revolving circle. As much as you want to be the one winning and putting your arms up in the air, nobody does that by himself. If you are lucky enough to be that person, then you have to appreciate everything that everyone else is doing for you.”

Brent Bookwalter: “At this point, we are all professionals. You create longevity and professional success in this sport by fulfilling that role. To some extent, you can have satisfaction in it. You can think, it is not my job to win at the end of the race but it is my job to cover the pack for the first 100 km and I am going to turn myself inside out to do that. It definitely isn’t a thankless job.”

Final Impressions on Teamwork and BMC Racing: 

While here in Denia for the BMC training camp and press day, I was impressed by the individual strength of each rider, but it was the overall spirit of cooperation amongst the team that left a lasting impact with me.Cadel Evans explained the uniqueness of BMC Racing perfectly when he said; “I am allowed to be myself on this team”.  This team just feels different; the respect and attitude between the staff, riders and coaches can be seen in every interaction they have with one another. While everyone’s goal is for BMC to win races, it feels like they are working towards this goal collectively, much like a family.
 

BMC riders: Jeff Louder, Chris Butler, Brent Bookwalter, Chad Beyer, Chris Barton at Press Day 2011 - Image ©Copyright Fitzalan Gorman/ usprocyclingnews.com

 

Many thanks to John Murphy, Brent Bookwalter, Chris Butler, George Hincapie and Cadel Evans for taking a few moments to talk with me about the team and for giving us an inside look into how teamwork plays into the fabric of BMC Racing. Best of luck to BMC Racing with all their goals in this upcoming season!
 
 
 
 

The Cycling Domestique

 

The pain and suffering is felt in the peloton maybe more than up front!

 

Lots of people write and blog about Cycling, but it strikes me that there is a huge part of cycling that is nameless–virtually lost within the sea of surging lycra and carbon fibre that is the Pro-Peleton. These are the Cycling Domestiques.

Cycling is about teamwork, at least that’s what they say, yet so much time and energy is devoted to the Superstars-the guys we know simply by their first names- Lance, Alberto, Tommeke, Cadel, Levi, Andy…..

But who are these other guys in heavily logo-ed, overly bright lycra, pedaling twice as hard while maneuvering through the peloton and carrying what looks like half their bodyweight in water bottles and nutrient bars?

These are the guys who make the superstar’s life easier, the superstar’s race-day entourage, his escorts in the peloton? They are the Cycling Domestiques. My articles, interviews and posts are about them. I’ll follow their story, their lives, and that moment their own star shines a bit brighter.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

X