Once again the Giro is delivering a true spectacle. Here’s why:
1) Angelo Zomegnan is crazy, in a good way
Where others ask “Why”, Angelo asks “Why not”. Starting in Venice or Washington, DC, riding over the Gavia in the snow or the dirt roads to Montalcino or the Kronplatz through rain and mud, he always manages to create a spectacular route for the Giro. Forget the whiners who say this isn’t serious racing, that snow and mud have nothing to do with cycling. This sport is all about epic, memorable moments and about keeping that connection with history, with the years of Magni, Binda and of course Coppi.
Going 20kmh over dirt roads poses no safety risk, other than maybe the occasional flash of insanity. The conditions are beyond bad, yes, but they are equally bad for everybody. In choosing routes where the riders can’t hide, Angelo makes sure that the Giro is an incredibly entertaining race to watch for cycling fans. I pity the fans who ignore the Giro in favor of the Tour. For sure, the Tour is required viewing, but a fan who doesn’t watch the Giro is depriving himself of so much pleasure.
2) It’s a 3 week race that is really raced for 3 weeks
Oftentimes a Grand Tour follows one of two patterns. Either it is decided after one week, and the rest is just a procession to the finish. Or nothing happens in the first two weeks and then the last week has all the fireworks. If you look at the Giros of the past years, they have always had plenty of excitement throughout the three weeks, with the ultimate winner often unclear until the final weekend (or, unfortunately, 1-2 years after if one of the various dope-boys claim initial victory). The Vuelta and the Tour also have their share of exciting editions (remember when Carlos won the 2008 Tour against Evans on the last Saturday), but no Grand Tour has delivered 3 weeks of top-notch racing consistently like the Giro has.
No other race has the weather swings the Giro has. Sure, it the Tour and Vuelta can have a really, really bad day as well (Last year’s Tour stage that Heinrich won comes to mind) but the Giro can go from snow to rain to 35 degrees Celsius in mere days. And when we think back about epic rides, be it from watching the pros or from riding ourselves, isn’t it more often than not the weather that at least played a role in making it epic? So let’s move the Vuelta to December, or back again to April, or something to break away from its monotonous sun-filled stages. A race that reminds you of sipping sangria during the siesta will never beat one that has hot chocolate and a triple layer of rain jackets written all over it.