Monday, May 30, 2022

Thoughts on Giro d'Italia 2022

 Giro d'Italia 2022

Start in Avola
La Corsa Rosa 2022 was challenging to say the least. Will it go down as a vintage edition? Probably not as the course revealed back in the fall of 2021 looked really, really tough and turned out to be just that. I mean just watching it on TV! It was not only a test for the competitors, a real last-man-standing battle of attrition, but a real challenge to watch day after day.

Let’s start with the good stuff: who can’t love the story of Biniam Girmay, the audacity of Mathieu Van der Poel, the “Christopher Reeve as Superman” looks and sprint domination of Arnaud Demare, the never-say-die long range attack of Alessandro Covi, the surprise of Trek-Segafredo’s young Spaniard (the next Hindley?) the over-performance of underdog teams like Alpecin and Intermarche, not to mention the spectacular scenery and massive crowds along the roads saluting Vincenzo Nibali in his final season?

We like Magro and Co on Eurosport

Then there’s the winner, Jai Hindley, taking revenge on the team who kept him off the top step of the Giro podium back in 2020 with a bold, last-chance attack on the Giro’s queen stage to put an insurmountable gap between him and INEOS team leader Richard Carapaz. This is a guy who came a long way around the world to Italy to learn his craft, winning some races in the Australian National Team jersey and racing with an Italian team based in Abruzzo. A guy who hasn’t seen his parents since the Covid-19 pandemic began and the first Australian winner ever of the Giro d’Italia.

The Torino stage was exciting

But watching the race was sometimes a struggle, even for me, an unabashed Italo-phile. Was the course too hard? Not in my opinion, why not have an edition for climbers rather than “kite-men”? Were there not enough big names racing? Plenty showed up but quite a few never made it to Verona, but that’s part of a Grand Tour, you have to first finish to finish first. There did seem to be a lot of racing not-to-lose, even Italian commentators talked about boring stages and blamed a lot of it on the current technology and the “numbers game” that is modern cycling under current UCI rules. That’s not the Giro organizer RCS’ fault is it? Perhaps the Giro could make their own rules and ban power-meters, heart rate monitors and the like? But we still had exploits from guys like MVdP and Covi, just not enough of them. Plenty of social media keyboard lions whined about boring stages, but I figure anything not LeTour or without “their” rider in the race and doing well is going to get complaints, so who cares what they think?

Gios Raduno visits La Corsa Rosa

In that complaint department, I have two: One was the sport-washing of the Orban regime in Hungary. I know RCS needs the money but I thought going to Israel was a bad idea, now Hungary? Will Moscow be next? Second was the video coverage. There was lots of talk last year about the poor TV production quality provided by Italian national broadcaster RAI. This year’s TV images and some interviews were provided by a private group, EMG I think it’s called. While their images never suffered during inclement weather…wait a minute, there was NO inclement weather... the EMG director too often seemed not to understand how bike races work – countless times missing attacks and deploying his camera motos at the front and back of one group of riders while none covered other groups. There were plenty of TV motos but they seemed rarely in the right place at the right time. RAI’s coverage has been superior even if we were sometimes left with no images if/when the weather went bad.

Bring back RAI!

The interviewers provided by these people weren’t very good either, asking banal questions way too often and why so little of Bradley Wiggins on the moto? He’s one reason (Riccardo Magrini is another) we watched Eurosport coverage vs RAI’s…at least until Magrini and Vladmir Belli started arguing or when RAI cut to commercials. Adding Moreno Moser to the Eurosport commentary group was a great idea!

I WILL throw out some criticism for RAI - their Processo alla Tappa show was too often a let down. Bring back Alessandra De Stefano as host, per favore! Same with the morning show, Beppe Conti is great but please, please find someone else to be the host!

Perhaps not a vintage edition but looking back over the three pink weeks, my time in front of the TV and seeing the race live, in-person was well spent. I’m already looking forward to the 106th edition!

Here's another take on Giro d'Italia 2022.

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