Todays stage was no mountain stage. As the riders gathered together under a camping tent to get out of the rain while they negotiated with race organizer Mauro Vegni to shorten the stage, I couldnt help but believe of Pantani, and how he would have seen the day as a big opportunity– one that should not be missed out on.
Sandwiched in between the Queen stage over the Stelvio Pass the other day, and tomorrows triple attack on Sestriere, riding more than six hours in the rain would definitely have actually added to the tiredness, something that might play a huge function on the last mountain phase. I want to send out a signal to the whole world that this sport is brave and will not back down in the face of all of the problems we are facing today,” he stated on the French Equipe TV channel after the phase today. In some way I think he would have comprehended the chance that a day like today would have provided him going into the final stage in the Alps tomorrow.
It was terrific to see Josef Černý solo to success today. CCC is ending their sponsorship and the team is basically folding, while Černýs home in the Czech Republic is one of the worst-hit in Europe by coronavirus.
Actually the huge story today was the rider strike this early morning that reduced– by more than 100km– what was to be the longest phase in this years race. And in some way it made me consider Marco Pantani.
Todays phase was no mountain phase. The initial 252-kilometer stage from Morbegno to Asti was in fact pancake flat, thus not a day which would have suited “Il Pirata”. But as the riders gathered under a tent to get out of the rain while they worked out with race organizer Mauro Vegni to shorten the phase, I couldnt assist but believe of Pantani, and how he would have seen the day as a substantial chance– one that should not be missed out on.
My heart went out to the riders as they did not be worthy of to be greeted by rain after three hard days in the mountains. A rider who really had his head focused on winning this years Giro dItalia, definitely would have preferred to race. Pantani was one of those riders.
Of course, relating to todays phase, an additional 100 kilometers probably modifications little bit. Sandwiched between the Queen phase over the Stelvio Pass yesterday, and tomorrows triple assault on Sestriere, riding more than six hours in the rain would definitely have actually added to the tiredness, something that might play a big function on the final mountain stage.
Rather, the riders got a comparative rest day. For somebody like Wilco Kelderman, who hardly managed to grab the pink jersey the other day, while losing nearly 2 and a half minutes to his closest competitors, todays shorted stage was a gift from the paradises. But for race organizer Mauro Vegni– who has actually had a hard time from the start to get Italys grand trip to Milan this Sunday– the relocation by the riders was a slap in the face.
” I am really dissatisfied. It is actually unjust of the riders. I have actually been trying to get this Giro dItalia on its feet and keep it there. Its been extremely hard. I wish to send a signal to the entire world that this sport is courageous and will not pull back in the face of all of the issues we are facing today,” he stated on the French Equipe TV channel after the stage today. “We had no message from group or riders last night. They just came to me 5 minutes from the start and gave me a demand. For many years I have made a lot of effort to protect riders, but to find this out five minutes prior to the start of a phase is not best. We had no idea!”
Personally, I tend to side with Vegni. Conserve a day of flash flooding– not unlike in 2015s world champions in Yorkshire– bike races are not canceled or changed due to rain. However actually it is not about who is ideal and who is incorrect.
“My history in the Giro has actually shown me that the hardest phases are often the ones you least anticipate to be the worst,” American Brent Bookwalter told VeloNews before the start of this years race. Todays stage might well have been one of those chances.
And in some way that brings me back to Marco Pantani. Maybe it is because we invested a day racing around Cesenatico, the hometown of the Italian champ that would have been 50 this year. But in some way I think he would have understood the opportunity that a day like today would have provided him entering into the last in the Alps tomorrow.
Ill always remember the phase to Les Deux Alpes throughout the 1998 Tour de France. That was the day that Pantani turned the tables on Jan Ullrich with a long solo breakaway to lastly take over the yellow jersey.
The 2020 Giro dItalia raced through all kinds of weather condition and darkness. However the conditions on stage 19 forced a mid-race path change. Image: Tim de Waele/Getty Images
I was on a motorcycle photographing that day. And it was a day I will never forget. Rain started almost instantly as we left Grenoble that morning. And it only became worse as we climbed up epic mountain passes like the Col de la Croix-de-Fer and the Galibier. But it was here that Pantani made his relocation. Attacking on the Galibier, soloing down the long valley road and lastly up Les Deux Alpes.
I followed Ullrich down and only caught up with Pantani as he attacked Deux Alpes. I was soaked and so were my electronic cameras, which started to malfunction just as I caught Pantani as he powered towards the line. My flash only worked sporadically and it was almost difficult to focus as my lens as it continuously misted up.
And that night I put my video camera equipment on the heater and turned it up complete blast hoping that it would dry out my equipment by morning. I wasnt sure it would, however it didnt matter really.
Thats what the last week in any grand trip is about. Because of rain– because every minute is vital, you dont shorten a phase or cancel. You dont cancel a day in the mountains. And you dont cancel a day on the flats, because, well, every day counts when it comes to the Maillot Jaune or the Maglia Rosa.
He, too, was stunned by the riders relocation today. In my life, NEVER, they suspended a stage due to rain.
Definitely, I understand the riders fatigue in the last days of racing. And this year it is as much psychological as physical as the Giro has actually been held under continued enigma regarding the health conditions as COVID is again increasing. And there has been consistent speculation concerning the bad weather that was long-anticipated in the last week of racing in northern Italy. In the end, the weather were far from Dantesque, however the riders folded. Perhaps todays case will just go down as a collective psychological shutdown within the peloton after a three-week race faced with stress not common of a typical bike race in normal time.
Vegni, at least, does not seem prepared to turn the page so quickly. “Now the I just wish to get the race to Milan,” he stated. “But this story is not completed. Due to the fact that a communiqué five minutes prior to the start of a stage is not bearable, after we complete the Giro and we will analyze what took place. It is not something that we need to endure in this sport. And those who are guilty will pay.”