The Giro d’Italia starts tomorrow, after most of the Grand Tour contenders attended a 3-day Criterium series in Holland as preparation. Unfortunately turning the Giro into a brand that can be marketed and sold anywhere in the world backfired when “the traffic furniture spoiled it”. It is called the Tour of Italy for a reason, it should be held in Italy on roads wider than a bike lane.
Traffic furniture was not a term I was familiar with when I was growing up in Europe. It only became something I understood when riders started trying to ride through it, rather than around it. Watching the first two days of the Giro made me think, had anyone actually looked at the routes in Holland? Even on Google Maps satellite view? How can anyone have thought that they were suitable for this kind of race? A few questions may have to been raised about the ability to squeeze a Gran Tour peleton into the equivalent of the West Side Highway bike path. I know as a Pro you are just supposed to “Get on with it” when the rest of us would shout “This is insane“, but riding a 5-hour slalom coarse, with skittish riders all with good legs, coupled with random pieces of plastic “furniture” dropped in places you can’t see, doesn’t seem like a winning formula. Watching the last two days of the Giro made me understand what happened in Milan last year, when the riders neutralized the stage because the coarse was “unsafe“. Sometimes you just have to say….eh…no. Look at the outcome of those two stages. VDV out with a broken collar bone, and now his preparation for the Tour scuppered. Wiggins out of contention after stage 3! And my own personal disappointment, Dan Martin at over 9 minutes after three stages. I think Cadel Evans’ quote points out the irony nicely: “Obviously the traffic islands are very cycling friendly for commuters”, the key word being commuters, not a Grand Tour.
Photo: Roberto Bettini