If there’s a single lesson to be gleaned from the Giro d’Italia, it is to expect the unexpected. Every day here at the Giro is seemingly a mythical adventure worthy of awe inspiring super-heroes, taking place in enchantingly exotic lands, and spun with a plot as captivating and serpentine as the roads on which we race. Except this reality. In previous blog entries or tweets perhaps you’ve heard me mention a dozen or more times that this race is simply spectacular. What I have further come to realize is that the Giro is as unpredictable as it is fantastic.
Some anecdotes if you will:
Races of this caliber merit “X-km to go” signs, indicating various distances instrumental to the race. 10km to the sprint line or 25km to go in the race, for example, help remind racers what is on the horizon. A fun discovery in my one-and-a-half Giros is that just like a fictional comic book, these distances are seemingly made up as well. “3km to GPM” (GPM = KOM to those speaking American)? Nope, try 5km. Getting hungry and the “10km to Feedzone” sign perks your interest? In reality you’ll be dining in 18km.
In similar fashion to fundamental distances provided by the race, teams receive information about that night’s hotels all throughout the Giro. Of critical importance to planning meals, massage, and mechanic work on the bikes, is the time it takes from the stage finish to the hotel. Race manual says two hours? Nope, not going to happen under three. I actually think their formula reads closer to:
Actual time = (Recommended time x 1.5) + 1 hour
The good thing there is that I’m provided more time to thumb Blackberry-written blogs like this one while in transit on the bus. So besides the sensational race itself, once again you are the recipients of the Giro’s fantastical planning.
Expecting the unexpected in the Land of Oz that is the Giro is as on-key as ever when it comes to weather. From the beginning one week ago in the Netherlands the forecasts have been seemingly plucked randomly from a hat. Stages 1-3: pouring rain predicted, yet almost bone dry the entire three days. (But windy like you wouldn’t believe! … unless you’re Dutch and that’s what’s known as “calm.”) The past two days, in fact, the forecasts are the exact opposite as what has transpired from the sky.
It was entertainingly fitting that stage 9 was the first day with sun predicted the entire day. However, almost to the second the start flag was dropped, we felt the first rain drops. A respite from the rain followed, which was capped off by a deluge. Don’t let me get started on the axle-deep puddles we rode through towards the finish; those truly were of mythical proportions!
The Giro d’Italia is the spectacular brain child of race director Angelo Zomegnan. While some people complain that the stages are too hard, the transfer too long, or the mountains too steep, I applaud his efforts to make the Giro monumental. If you’re going to host a grand tour, you may as well go soup to nuts, as the expression goes, and make it truly grand. With the race nearing its halfway point, like a child anticipating the next Harry Potter book (well, up until the most recent one, which I’ve just been informed is the last) I anxiously wait to see how this epic will ultimately unfold.
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This year Ted King is in his sophomore year with the Cervélo TestTeam. After getting a taste for the European peloton with the U.S. espoir national team in 2005, King returned to the United States for three successful years of domestic pro racing. The 27-year-old is a native of New Hampshire and despite his affinity for hearty servings of coffee, he is slowly adapting to the smaller European portions. Slowly. His diaries appear monthly on VeloNews.com; between the scanty portions we serve up, you can follow Ted at www.Cervelo.com/team and www.iamTedKing.MissingSaddle.com. Those of you content with 140 characters or less can track his activities at www.twitter.com/iamtedking.