Monday, 28 May 2012

The giro did the job - what's next for cycling?

No words needed

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That's it, the 2012 giro is over. It all happened way too fast, the days of hurrying back from work to catch the last 50 k's live on the TV are definitely over. Following the race was excellent due to social media, allowing fans to follow the race at the same as doing the household tasks.

The changes
The RCS, organisers of the giro, promised some changes from last year's debated course, and they kept their promise. Many shorter stages, cut down on transfer length between stages, are some of the actions the organisers chose. And the result? I haven't seen a more open and exciting giro in years. Of course, this is not something the RCS have the sole resposibility for, as you all know, they create arenas for the teams and riders. What happens in a stage or in the race is solely up to the riders and the repective teams.

Earlier we've seen endless, boring stage races where one team towed their leader to the beginning of the mountain and it all exploded last 10 k. I think we're seeing a new beginning on the horizon. Shorter stages opens up a race on a totally different level, many more riders can actually be a star. Braveness should be rewarded, and it was, at least twice. I will forever remember the bold push by Rabottini who clung on to Rodriguez and won the stage after spending the whole day in the break was spectacular. I was hoarse after that stage, tell you that. And De Gendt, who was the only one who dared to take the mighty mountains of Moltirolo and Stelvio by force, in which he was rewarded with a brilliant giro podium. Racing a stage race has changed from getting that huge attack and gain 5 minutes, to the accumalation of the seconds on every stage, every day. Yes it is three weeks of racing and you've got like 3500 km to do it, but it comes down to that guy who gets the small seconds every time.

The brave should be rewarded. If I could decide, that would be the mantra for the future of racing.

Being a facilitator is not easy though, as many will have an opinion on the race, the logistics and for certain the course it self. Social media have flattened the playing field as riders and others can reach the organisers quickly and broadcast their meaning. Judging by the response from the riders they seem pretty content with the RCS.

Fighting spirit can take you here...

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Many riders deserve a mention, I will just come up with some. Taylor Phinney, who was the first giro leader, was a fine ambassador and fought with his heart. All heart was also the reigning WC Mark Cavendish. I have to admit that I pictured him leave the race after ten days or so, bringing some PR to Sky Italia, the giro and of course to Sky, but he didn't crack. He stayed all race, giving all he had. Can't blame him for not trying win the red jersey. How long he will be in the tour is another chapter.

The fact that sprinters can win without a train is something i like to see. Guardini and Ferrari took care of that, the latter did not get the prize as the giro's most popular rider week one.

Last but not least; the Maglia Rosa himself Ryder Hesjedal. I had him as a possible podium contender if he was in shape, and he delievered the merchandise. He really wanted that win, that was easy to see. The attack on stage 14, he did the same on the queen-stage on Stelvio and he really did his part of pulling during the race. A consistent approach to the giro paid off after three weeks of battle in Italy. The days of the big time-gain is probably over, from now on it is all in the details every day. It is supposed to be a fight for the seconds.

Three weeks and 3500 km done, a brilliant giro is over. We've seen some outstanding racing and the excitement stayed until the last day. A recipe for good entertainment. Provided by the RCS, given to us by the riders. I hope racing continues to develop, I hope organisers of stage races shorten most of their stages like the RCS did, and above all I hope to see riders stepping up and claiming their place in the history books.

A nice way to summon the 2012 giro is Cavendish' words to Velonews: “The Giro is the hardest grand tour in the world. The Tour is different; it’s the racing that makes it hard. Here the mountains are diabolical. It kills you.”

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