Well, all Naked Gun references aside, apparently the Giro started on Saturday. The reason I say “apparently” is because the brain surgeons who organized the event decided to have a ridiculously tricky Team Time Trial as the first stage - thus encouraging large time-gaps and essentially gifting the winning team with the maglia rosa for the entire first week. As a racer and fan, I have to say…this might be the single worst way to start a Grand Tour.
It seems like the Giro organizers don’t really have issues with doing weird things on the opening day though. Remember the night time Prologue a few years ago when a helmet-less Cipollini donned a pink body-suit and rode the course as the final rider? Yeah…I don’t know if that really conformed to standard protocol either. But it was still WAY better than the TTT start.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that much of the interest generated by the early sprinting stages of a Grand Tour (or any stage race for that matter) is the potential for a number of riders to garner not only a stage win but also the leader’s jersey as well. When McEwen won the first “real” stage on Sunday, he should have taken the maglia rosa with it. Or maybe current World and Italian Champion Paolo Bettini would have taken it if a normal prologue had opened the race. That would have been cool too.
But instead, we get a snotty Danilo Di Luca (who still seemed mad at his teammate Enrico Palazzo…er…I mean Gasparotto for riding faster than him in the TTT) begrudgingly accepting the leader’s jersey and looking rude. Plus, we now have to look forward to the joys of seeing lime green and pink for a week.
Speaking of Di Luca…is he just simply too cool to smile? I think he may be. It seems like he’s really annoyed, angry or just kind of indifferent whenever he’s on the podium. Maybe it’s because he’s always shorter than the podium girls. That might get on my nerves too.
Come to think of it…that would be kind of tough. I mean, you win a race or get the lead and you’re all psyched and thinking macho thoughts about yourself. Then you go up to the stage and the podium girls make you look like a 12 year old in a Halloween costume standing next to the baby sitter.
Considering that most professional cyclists are fairly average-to-short in height, you would think that the organizers could get some non-Amazonian women to help dispense the post-race goodies. I mean…I know most models are fairly tall but you’re trying to tell me that they can’t find some attractive, shorter women in Italy? Really? I’m guessing they could probably rustle up a few nice looking petite ladies in those parts.
After all, when the winner of a prestigious bike race goes up to the podium and ends up looking like Long Duk Dong next to Lumberjack in Sixteen Candles…you may lose a little of the grandeur. Then you throw in a Pink Jersey and things start going downhill faster than Il Falco.
Maybe I’m just being petty but I have to think the riders talk about this phenomenon too. I mean…we can’t all be George Hincapie and run off with the podium girl. Cyclists generally do pretty well with the ladies but it can’t be good for the old morale when the podium girls have to bend down to kiss you. Even when you’re standing on the top step.
Anyway…I have to mention one more thing about the Giro that is INSANE. During the coverage of the first road stage on VS, there was a point when the breakaway group passed some dude riding along side of the road. Not on the sidewalk or adjacent to the course…I mean…the guy was actually cruising along the race route and the break had to basically go around him. It was ridiculous. And the worst part was that the guys in the breakaway didn’t even yell out “On your left” as they passed him. I mean…where is the etiquette guys? It’s only the first stage of the second biggest bike race in the world. Come on let’s be courteous to our fellow bike riders, huh?
So, yeah…the Giro started on Sunday. I guess it’s important but there is just so much else going on in the sport that is taking the focus away from the race. Between Operacion Puerto and the Landis Case, the Giro seems to be the least important. Hopefully we will have a clear winner at the end of the race and at least we know that it will conclude in three weeks. Since we can’t say the same thing about an end-date for OP or the Landis Affair…let’s finish with a Naked Gun quote from Lt. Frank Drebin of Police Squad, one of the leading investigators of both cases.
"I promise you; whatever scum did this, not one man on this force will rest one minute until they are behind bars. Now, let's grab a bite to eat."