The 2013 Giro d’Italia has become a kind of meteorological version of an Angelo Zomegnan Giro.
The former impresario was famous for putting “art” into every stage and Crazy Z brought the Giro back to more prominence when he took over as race boss in 2004.
Unfortunately, Zomegnan went to extreme lengths with his artistic drama, culminating in a brutal 2011 Giro with so many mountain climbs that riders grew angry and he lost his job.
In came Michele Acquarone with the promise of a more ‘humane Giro.” He proved successful with that approach in 2012 but thanks to abysmal weather conditions, this year’s edition of the Corsa Rosa has been anything but humane.
The first two weeks of the Giro brought rain, snow, freezing temperatures and dangerous descents on slippery mountain roads. Bradley Wiggins became ill and discovered he had Andy Schleck Syndrome — fear of wet roads that twist downhill. Exit Sir Brad.
Defending champion Ryder Hesjedal also succumbed to the horrible conditions. The mystery aliment robbed him of his high end power and soon he found himself way down the GC, all hope of defending his crown gone. Goodbye Ryder.
British commentator Robert Millar described this Giro as “survival training.” Weather has become the number one story of the Giro and the final week promises perhaps even worse conditions.
Predictions of snow in the Dolomites will in all probability eliminate the iconic climbs of the Passo Gavia, the Stelvio and Passo Tre Croci. Temperatures are plummeting and nobody but a young and crazy Andy Hampsten would race a bike in those conditions.
Somewhere Angelo Zomegnan is clapping his hands. He’s got his drama, the powerful images of struggle and adversity, battling the elements and the adversaries. Only trouble is, this Giro may already to over with Friday and Saturday’s big climbs cut from the route.
There will be almost no opportunity for Cadel Evans or Rigoberto Uran to make up the 1:26 and 2:46 they need to win. Without a real mountain top to work with, Michele Scarponi won’t be making the jump from fourth onto the podium.
Giro boss Acquarone has been working his optimism pretty hard over the first two weeks but he must be cursing the weather and bad luck at this point. We’re sure race leader Vincenzo Nibali would prefer to win this grand tour in grand style rather than coast into Brescia. The only attack he fears now is the common cold.
Cycling fans have certainly enjoyed the incremental drama of the first two weeks in the Giro but miserable weather is now about to devalue the final results.
When the race route was first announced, all the riders said the brutal third week of mountains would decide the winner.
Wrong. The 2013 Giro d’Italia was decided in the first two weeks.