21 days of one day races

The TIVO box is primed and cleared, ready to engorge on 100+ hours of bongo. It’s Giro time. Of the three grand tours it’s arguably he most anarchic, terrifying, and captivating. Things happen in the Giro that don’t happen in the Tour; epic splits, absurdly steep climbs and savage accumulations of mountains, day after day. It also has its fair share of mythology and heroism. The clichés regarding cycling are probably accurate; it’s a race that reflects the cultural background and psyche of a nation. For further reading I recommend John Foot’s Pedalare! Pedalare!

Fiorenzo Magni using bar-tape as leverage to counteract a broken collarbone. Really.

The story of the 1973 Giro is beautifully told in Jorgen Leth’s film, Stars and Their Watercarriers. It depicts the epic struggle between Eddy Merckx and the Spanish mountain goat, José Manuel Fuente.

The film is a precursor to Leth’s more famous documentary, A Sunday in Hell.

In recent years, a couple of stages stand out, but especially the Strade Bianche in 2010 when Evans emerged from the grey primordial soup of Northern Italy to take the win

Evans and Vinokourov. I think.

This year the race makes an excursion into France to tackle the Galibier, before heading back across the border. It’s very exciting when a race heads over a climb you’ve ridden yourself, it emphasises the extreme difference between the amateur dilettante and the hardened Grand Tour rider.

From an anglophone perspective, this year’s race is all about Sir Bradley of Wigginshire. I imagine that the strategy will be Indurain-esque in its simplicity: limit the losses on the really steep stuff and then absolutely muller it in the time trials and everywhere else. It should make for amazing viewing.

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