Giro d’Italia (produced by italians)
Stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia was meant going to be epic, but we never thought how much it would really be, how much drama would be included thanks to a strange message of the race radio.
Listening to the recording of race radio for Giro here is what it’s clear (?)
- There wasn’t any neutralization.
- There would be motorbikes with red flags and no one could attack
- No one knows until who when racers could attack.
As if it was the closing act of an opera, one of the main characters, a title contender, pulls away, in the flat, with 47 kms to go, stormed 20 kms of climbing, defeats all the other pre race favorites and strips a fellow countryman from the leading position. As Colombian I should feel proud about Nairo’s Quintana stage. Colombian riders at the top of a grand tour making the 1-2 on the podium.
The truth is that I feel sorry for Rigoberto Uran losing the pink jersey. If I was him, I would be very pissed off if a very unclear order by race organizers would make me loose the Giro, and this is basically what many other cyclist may have felt over the past few days and have been flooding cycling forums.
I really don’t think that it was a deceiving move by Quintana, but the final outcome is far from the ideal of sportsmanship that you would like to see in cycling and how a grand tour should be won. In a sense, let’s not say attacking just to keep on the presumption of innocence of Quintana,, profiting from a situation like this is pretty much like profiting from any other mishap as a flat tire or a massive fall. (At the bottom I’ve included a further explanation for the non-initiated cyclist to understand a little bit more on the ethics of bike racing as I understand them.)
No matter what race organization tries to do now or how they try it to explain it, the order they gave was confusing to say the least, and could have been interpreted as if either there was a de facto neutralization or there wasn’t and my guess is that Rigberto Uran would still be in pink after stage 16.
As a Colombian I feel very happy about the 1-2 in such a big race as the Giro d’Italia, but I must say that it really bothers me the way it happened. It would have been fantastic if it was on a clear display of talent rather than by a race situation were orders got confusing. It’s just a matter of ethics and that’s what’s bothering.
I’m trying to make peace with what happened, (I know it’s a stupid statement, but somehow this incident brings up my unresolved issue on finding fairness in the world), I’ve come to the conclusion that this is only one beautiful twist of Italianism: a vision of a stage as big as a cathedral, with 3 massive climbs anchored in the past, with such a poor execution that made a small chaos, and somehow delivered one of the most beautiful displays of cycling to watch in a long long time, while a huge drama is in play after that. Really it’s the biggest Italian opera. Tu se’ Pagliaccio!/Vesti la giubba,/e la faccia infarina.
Bike racing Ethos explained.
To explain my self to the non initiated cyclist I’ll try to further explain my self on this issue so you can understand a little bit about the unwritten codes of cycling.
Cycling is a brave sport with several displays of true sportsmanship during the years and one unwritten rule is that your respect your fellow racer if he has any mishap that wouldn’t allow him to compete on an even playing filed. That means you don’t attack when the other it’s down because of causes outside his control, like a flta tire or a fall.
These are 2 displays of what I mean: Lance Armstrong and Jan Ulrich waited for each other, first the American for the german on the Tour de France 2001 and the favor was paid back in 2003.
The case against can also be made. The most famous in recent years was Tour 2010 and the chain dropped by Andy Shleck and subsequent attacks on the leaders.
As I tried to explain to my girlfriend a little bit about this bike ethic, and used the same exampes used here to illustrate many of these details and principles, and how she came to pretty much the same conclusion and the same crossroad as I’m now: we are happy for Quintana but we wish it would have been in another way.
*If this race was organized by Colombians it would have never happened though, somehow the start would have happened 2 hours later when race conditions wouldn’t allow the riders to climb.