Monday, April 30, 2018

It's Yer Giro d'Italia in Preview, Part Uno: The Course!

Right, half of you aren't watching the Giro this year due to the Israel start, and half of you aren't watching because watching Chris Froome is like watching one of those vomitous nature-survival shows when a GIANT GANGLY HAIRY--uh, HAIRLESS SPIDER FILLS THE SCREEN, except for three straight weeks, not one mere second of abject terror. But for me, it's *still* the Giro dammit, so for the remaining half of us who'll watch it, what can we expect? *This*, baby--now let the fight for the maglia rosa begin!

The Individual Time Trials: screw that opening team trial crap where they give the GC contenders with weak teams a catastrophically insurmountable gap on the first day--this year, the GC boys get to lose all that time aaaaaaaaall on their own, honey! Day 1: 9.7k of bendy, lumpy confusion with a surprise steep finale--not enough to help the climbers, but just enough to !@#$ 'em up. Stage 16: 34.2k o' Whoa Moly I Just Lost the Podium, including crash-inducing paving stones, roundabouts, and roads juuuust about wide enough to squeak a bike through. But don't worry, that's nothing compared to the coupla 90 degree bends right before the finish line--if you make it there in one piece!

The Sprint Stages: Honestly, who gives a !@#$? This is the *Giro*, dag nabit, not some Tour de France green-jersey orgasmofest, and damn near everyone who's not Italian and *can* sprint is riding the !@#$in' Amgen EPO Tour of California instead anyway as soon as they get a crap TUE from Liewe Westra's gullible doctor. Still, they put 'em in there, on stages 2, 3, 7, 12, 13, and sorta at the end 17 (plus the ultimate day in Rome). Elia Viviani, they're yours to lose--and if you do that in front of yer home crowd, take cover!

The Rollers: Neo-pro jailbait looking to justify yer puny salary by flashing your sponsor's logo for 6 fruitless hours o' headwind agony? Slightly on yer way down, and hoping you'll be let back up again? Or just the sort of unicorn breakaway specialist who can actually pull a Gilbert from 50k out without anybody noticing? Well--with the caveat that the Giro's "rolling stages" are "rolling stages" like gasping yer way up Mount Everest is a "nice little meander in the park"--stages 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 11 are for you. DON'T--STOP I--I SWEAR TO GOD IF YOU KEEP LOOKING UNDER YER ARMPIT 50 METERS FROM THE LINE I'M GONNA HAVE TO COME OUT THERE AND KICK YOUR !@# BEFORE YOU EVEN GET CAUGHT AT THE LINE!

The Mountains: The hiiiills are aliiiiive...with the sound of "Oh, !@#$!" Yep folks, this is what you've come here for, and this is what the darling Giro, for all its management-based flaws, is here to give you. First, stage 6 welcomes us literally to hell with a 164k stage to the fiery slopes of the fearsome Mt. Etna, with the first assface taking a prolonged drag from a car (you remember they've got those newfangled "cameras" now, right?) getting ceremonially sacrificed to the volcano's lavalicious bowels. Then, the GC can knock back a coupla cold ones and chill absolutely worry-free til stage 14, when we we hit, after a coupla shortish-but-exceedingly-steep little nippers, the GC-smashing crags of the mighty Zoncolan. Ready for a rest? Well, welcome to stage 15 and the Dolomites! After an initial schlep up Passo dello Mauria and a relatively flat run to Cortina d'Ampezzo, you jog right up Passo Tre Croci en route to your with two more passes before a 10k right-uphill leg-snapper finale. Whew! But if you bonked badly on one of these puppers, never fear--the overall actually gets decided, if you haven't irredeemably !@#$ed it up already, on stage 18--where a nearly entirely flat profile lulls you to sleep before blasting you awake with a vertical airhorn starting at kilometer 170-- stage 19's brutal haul up the Colle del Lys, Colle delle Finestre, and--if you've still got any gas in your mot--uh, legs--theoretically the last summit finish of the entire Giro from the base at Bardonecchia. Finally, the two remaining survivors within, oh, 90 minutes of the leader's jersey enjoy the penultimate day's Queen Stage, with Col Tsecore's 12%-gradient sting, the relatively relaxing Col St. Pantaleon and--last but not least--the looooooooooong 19k drag up Cervinia. But even with that Skybot disgrace and unlikely Biggest Climber on Earth Dumoulin in attendance, and Movistar leaving its biggest guns to go all Donner Party on themselves at the Tour, there's still room for intrigue. Perhaps Nibali, encapsulating national pride with a high-peaks victory? And Chaves you sneaky little sprite, it's time to show the fangs beneath that smile and spit Froome out the back where he belongs!

The Finale: And, lest you were hoping for a careening high-stakes crashfest through the heart of some peaceful piazza, the organizers, in their respectful wisdom, are running the triumphal sprint in Rome through 13 laps in the actual Colosseum instead. Or, y'know, a ten-loop circuit with pave, whatever. THAT'S RIGHT BEYOTCHES, I'M A GLADIATOR--now if some !@#$witted fan doesn't knock me off my bike into the barriers with a !@#damn selfie stick in the last 20 meters, the glory is *mine*!

Well, that's the race course. Next up: The GC Contender! Wait, there's more than one you say? Did that little !@#$ get popped for good this time or something? Guess they gotta put up a coupla names just for show...anyway, see ya next post!