Monday, June 14, 2021

Vive LeTour!

 Vive LeTour!!!

Will ASO come after us for using the world "LeTour" and posting a photo from the race that we took?

In a couple of weeks Le Beeg Shew will get underway again. We last saw it live in 2019 when this photo was taken. How will this year's race play out?

One thing could be extra-interesting - how the team that has dominated this race for so many years will race and can they win?

The team boss claimed their racing strategy had changed after the Giro d'Italia in 2020. You can read what he said HERE, but as Zio Lorenzo says, you can tell when he's, well...not telling the truth....it's when his lips are moving.

Why does Zio say that? The current issue of Italy's Bicisport magazine has quotes from Giro d'Italia 2021 winner Egan Bernal. He claims HE told the team boss he was no longer interested in racing in the team's famous style - all that "by the numbers" stuff vs attacking on instinct. 

But the boss claims it was all the team sponsor's idea in the article we provided the link to. Who would YOU believe?

We'll see soon enough, as the team's designated leader is one of those Zio Lorenzo calls "the royals" the same guy who eked out his sole win at Le Grand Boucle back in 2018 over 2nd and 3rd place riders who'd both ridden a grueling Giro d'Italia. Otherwise his palmares are right up there with...uh...Richie Porte.

Giro d'Italia winner Richard Carapaz is supposed to be the backup rider just-in-case. But then there's another "royal" - the guy who won the Giro in 2020 despite never wearing the maglia rosa until the finish in Milano. At the Giro with Bernal, the rest of the team seemed like the "butlers and kitchen help" but at the Tour they'll have a lot of "the royals" so which strategy will prevail?

Zio's guess is "Mr G" will crash out or have a bad day (he's 35 now while the oldest winner was 36 back in 1922) after the team rides pretty much as they did in the recent lead-up races to LeTour rather than how they raced the Giro. Once his chances are gone, will another "royal" take over or will the "butlers and kitchen help" take the reins? 

Either way, you know who will take the credit...or the blame and that it won't be the same person(s).

Vive LeTour!




Monday, May 31, 2021

Giro d'Italia 2021 Final Thoughts

 Some Thoughts on La Corsa Rosa 2021

First, let's review my pre-race predictions: "I think Bernal’s back will act up**, Yates will croak in the third week**, Nibali will end up chasing a stage win*, Vlasov will get sick***, Martin will be duking it out with Mollema for 5th on GC at the end**, Evenepoel will ride around learning how a Grand Tour plays out*, Hugh Carthy will flap around like an air-powered attention-grabber at a used car dealer*, Landa will look great until he croaks or loses the plot before it’s all over* …so it’ll be a race among Hindley*** Bennett*** and Almeida*….and maybe Ciccone** or Formolo***?"

*dead-on ** half-right *** way-off

While the team we love to hate ended up winning, just like in 2018 and 2020, this win (just like the others) didn't seem to be the result of SKY/INEOS steamrolling/suffocating the race as they do way too often at the race where the leader wears a yellow shirt. While they used their team extremely well in almost every case, this group, dubbed by yours truly  "the butlers and kitchen help" instead of the "royals" they usually deploy at Le Grand Boucle never had me rooting against them as I always do at LeTour.

Why? Who can't like Bernal, the Colombian brought up in Italian cycling and then bought fully finished by the team with the biggest budget in cycling? He's not a "royal" despite winning Le Grand Boucle in 2019 and was coming back from back issues that stopped him in 2020's event.

And it's hard for us not to like Ganna, Puccio and Moscon, not to mention the guys who ran the team - Tosatto and Cioni, so while we dislike the backer of the team, he's not as awful as some others we could mention.

Another one of those teams with backers we don't care for thrust our almost neighbor from Ragusa into a leadership role after their designated GC guy crashed out and Damiano Caruso did us proud!

Seven stage wins for Italians overall, including "Lucky Larry" Lorenzo Fortunato atop Monte Zoncolan created a very satisfying and entertaining race this year - truly:

The World's Toughest Race in The World's Most Beautiful Place

W Il Giro!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Giro's Queen Stage neutered!

 Same s__t, different year?

Above: photo from HERE

Today Stage 16 of the
 2021 Giro d'Italia, dubbed the "Queen Stage" for its length and difficulty was neutered just before it began.

In 2020 there was THIS fiasco.

As usual lots of excuses were exchanged, the riders blaming the race organizers for the decision while the organizers implied they made the choice to avoid a strike by the riders.

The real losers were the fans, especially the ones waiting on the two mythical, legendary passes - Fedaia and Pordoi that were skipped.

One has to ask the question (as was asked on the post-race Processo alla Tappa TV show) would the epic stages of the past on the Gavia, Monte Bondone or Tre Cime di Lavaredo have happened under this new weather protocol...and WHAT IS this new weather protocol?

Reports from both passes indicated none of the issues contained in the printed protocol were present. Riders and team directors, when asked before and after the race indicated they were fine with racing the entire stage, some actually almost looking forward to it as they felt their chances improved with their ability to deal with cold temps and wet roads. 

But on the other hand the rider's union representative posted THIS.  Further, a day later the same rider's union rep claimed that most wanted to ride the stage but somehow it was decided that was too dangerous. So either the rider's union no longer (if ever) actually represents the rider's views or the guy is full-of-it.

Zio Lorenzo's opinion is the rider union wanted to avoid the kind of charges leveled last year at union boss Gianni Bugno who was castigated as being too in-favor of of the organizers as he was working for the official broadcaster at the time.

Implications by the organizers were that individual riders privately objected to racing the full route despite what their team directors said. Can we believe this? The polemics will go on for awhile but it seems unfair to use the legendary exploits and suffering of guys like Hampsten, Gaul, Merckx or Nibali racing in conditions far worse than these to promote pro cycling (and your profession) when stages are these days cancelled or shortened because of less-than-ideal weather.

Modern cycling has the best foul-weather clothing ever along with braking systems far superior to the old days (at least that's what the marketers tell us!) in wet weather, not to mention the grippiest tires ever made, but for some reason races can no longer be run under these kinds of conditions? 

Zio simply doesn't understand the excuses about the risk of hypothermia in an era when a team car filled with cold-weather gear can easily be stationed atop each summit. What better way for the clothing and equipment sponsors to demonstrate the amazing qualities of their products?

Couldn't the riders have agreed to stop at the summit and don all this high-tech clothing and take a hot drink before the descents - the kind of thing cycle tourists are very familiar with?

As they say in Italian - VERGOGNA!

Note: Zio Lorenzo has stopped posting on a popular English-language cycling blog. He decided it's no longer worth his time arguing with the other commenters there. We'll not mention the name of the blog as any readers there who end up here will know the one we're referencing, but it dawned on Zio that during the Giro, which for him is Xmas, New Years and his birthday all combined, why argue with those who don't believe in Santa Claus, won't share any bubbly and whine the birthday cake isn't gluten-free?


Friday, May 14, 2021

Don't try this at home!

 It's dangerous out there!

Watch


WTF? Geez, what's going on here?
No excuse for that, is there? The driver was thrown out of the race but Zio's fear is he'll be replaced by someone with less skill and experience. The CAR should be out of the race as well.

Perhaps a bigger issue is what WAS going on here? Getting jackets back from an organizer's car - jackets dropped off as soon as the rain stopped, despite the fact they might need them again. There's way too much tossing away of things in the current pro peloton whether it's trash, bottles or clothing. 

Why? Zio's view is that there's too much handing out of stuff, so riders can toss whatever they have that's not needed this very second knowing they can get a replacement almost instantly from the team car or a team staff person at the roadside. They toss bottles still full of fluids as well as food items (not just the wrappers) sometimes within seconds of being handed them and now jackets, expecting somehow they'll be retrieved and returned to them the instant they're needed again.

This needs to end.

Regarding the driving, you know if you've been on a tour with us that we're careful drivers, especially when around cyclists. Our rule is NEVER, EVER, EVER hit a cyclist! Wreck the car, scare the passengers, even shear the bikes off the roof if you have to, but NEVER hit a rider!

One of our support cars

Both of us have experience driving in race caravans, Zio's dates back to the old Coors Classic and Tour DuPont when we'd have official credentials to be out there. Zio's first chance was to be on the same day at the Coors the Campagnolo car went off the road and rolled over on a mountain curve! Luckily he wasn't out there that day but amazingly the driver of that car later called the company we worked for, asking for a job as tour guide! 
We had a good laugh about introducing this guy to the clients - "Remember the guy who rolled the Campy neutral support car? Well, he'll be driving the van you're in!"

We think this was the car that crashed at the Coors Classic

Later at the Tour and Giro we might not always have had credentials but we were out there just-the-same, most often trying to get down from a mountain pass through the race traffic. The trick was Zio at the back, would see the race caravan coming up from behind and quickly radio to the boss up front about whether he wanted to jump into the (usually) police-escorted caravan for a quicker trip down the mountain.

If the answer was YES, Zio would pull out into the opposing lane (no cars were going up the road as it was closed) and hold up the oncoming caravan briefly to allow the rest of our entourage to pull over and begin following the parade of team cars down the mountain.

Once we were all in-line and following the official vehicles things would get, well, interesting. Just like the team cars, the drivers had to watch out for cyclists on both sides of the road while trying to keep up - in a 9-passenger van with that many bikes on the roof and clients inside vs the much lower-profile team station wagons + police cars and motos.

Things sometimes got wild and wooly and a few clients feared "losing their lunch" with one memorably taking the boss to task for what he thought was needlessly dangerous activity, but this guy never volunteered to stay up there sitting in stopped traffic for hours or riding his own bike down.

The worst thing that ever happened to us was at LeTour one day. We'd jumped into a caravan and raced down the mountain until the van just in front of Zio misjudged a bridge curbing (since it was on the side of the road, nobody usually drove down the hill so that side of the road so the sharp edge didn't much matter) just a bit and blew out both left-side tires!

He found a spot to pull over with Zio just behind, since he knew TWO jacks and spare tires would be needed. Meanwhile the rest of the caravan and our entourage continued down the mountain until a guest grabbed the CB radio microphone and reported the problem. Our entourage then pulled over to wait while the boss fumed, waiting for updates on our progress.

The scene was kind of like a NASCAR pitstop as Zio and other other driver/tour guide jumped out with jacks and spare tires, working quickly to replace the blown-out tires as a client narrated the action to the waiting boss. Just as the boss was going to turn loose the clients stuck waiting in the vans, he got the word we were back underway.

Again Zio had to wait for a police-escorted group of team cars to come by, but this time we were already on the left side of the road, so it was easier to jump in and catch up to our entourage who responded with applause once we came into view.

No matter what, we always vowed to NEVER, EVER, EVER hit any riders. The Giro support car drivers should at least do the same, no?




Saturday, May 8, 2021

It's GIRO Time!

 La Corsa Rosa 2021


It's Giro time! For Zio Lorenzo it's better than Xmas!

How can you not LOVE a race with an official chocolate - NOVI
and official pasta - RANA not to mention official bubbly - ASTORIA

As well as one on live, free-to-air TV* from start to finish every day?

If you want to enjoy it too, check HERE.

W Il GIRO!!!

* Here in Italy anyway

Friday, May 7, 2021

Piedmont Cycling Resort will NOT open in 2021

 Piedmont Cycling Resort will NOT open in 2021


After a lot of careful thought and consultation with our regular clients we have decided NOT to open Piedmont Cycling Resort for 2021.

While we too have heard and read all the encouraging news about "green passes" and tourists again being welcomed into the EU and of course Italy, we have decided to wait until 2022 to reopen Piedmont Cycling Resort when the pandemic (we hope) will just be a bad memory.

We hope you, as well as our friends and partners in Piedmont will understand our decision and look forward to seeing us without masks and social-distancing in 2022.

Stay safe!

Lorenzo & Erica (aka Harry & Leather)