Thursday, 6 May 2010

Giro d'Holland, er, Italia

Image by Gigilla83 at Wikimedia Creative Commons

This weekend the Giro d'Italia begins, otherwise known as "official summer cycle racing season". It starts in Holland this year, with the prologue in Amsterdam on Saturday, then Sunday's stage running in and around my old stomping grounds the Utrechtse Heuvelrug to finish in the Utrecht city centre. We had initially planned to be there to watch the stages in person, but between working out the logistics (ferries, lodging, bike storage), predicting the weather (cold and possibly rainy) and recovering from last weekend (which only ended on Monday night), we decided to give it a miss. We'll probably head there for a warmer sunnier July visit instead.

Nonetheless, the next three weeks will mean Giro fever around here and on the Kingston Wheelers forum. I'm planning to catch a few stages at the new Look Mum No Hands cycling cafe in central London, but mostly I'll be watching the stages at home: studying the attacks, watching the way the race plays out and seeing how well the teams cope with the pressure of protecting a leader's jersey or trying to win a stage. A rougher and more ruddy-cheeked sibling to the slick Tour de France, often seeing snowy conditions and gravel roads, the Giro is stage racing at its raw best.

I've even selected a team on Velogames, though historically my sports pool teams have done quite poorly! Maybe this year that will change.

all-rounderChristian VANDEVELDEGAR8
all-rounderVincenzo NIBALILIQ14
climberCarlos SASTRECTT20
climberDavid MONCOUTIECOF12
sprinterAndre GREIPELHTC10
gregarioLinus GERDEMANNMRM8
gregarioSebastien HINAULTAG26
gregarioIgnatas KONOVALOVASCTT6
wild cardAlexandre VINOKOUROVAST16

With 100 points to play with, I took a gamble on Vandevelde, that Dutch-named American, coming into form sooner than he thinks. Sastre is my sentimental favourite and Gerdemann is hopefully ready to burst forth with his huge talent. And Vino of course as the wild card, because hey, the guy really is a wild card.

Much better cycling fans than I write much better previews and reports of pro racing, so I won't even bother to try that here. Check out the very excellent Podium Cafe instead for day-to-day Giro chat and in-depth analysis. And Velonews for the news, results and interviews.

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