Yesterday I talked about my lack of enthusiasm for the 2011 Giro. An hour later I read that Zomegnan has been forced out as director of the Giro. It’s not my blog’s fault, really!! In fact, I am very sad to see him go.
Rumor has it that Italian TV broadcaster RAI thought the 2011 race was boring. You may think I agree with that based on yesterday’s blog, but I think RAI has gotten spoiled. The fact is that the Giro has always been hard, both the stages and the transfers in-between. To get an exciting race, you need an imaginative course and a bit of luck.
Zomegnan consistently creates such imaginative courses, and even comes up with great themes (100 years of the Giro, 150 years of Italian unity). I have written about why the Giro rules in the past. It’s actually one of my better pieces, if I may say so myself, so maybe worth a read (see here). Aside from the points mentioned there, just consider these four highlights:
2005: Colle di Finestre. The whole race has been epic, but somehow Savoldelli has managed to create a comfortable lead in the overall. Then Rujano and Simoni take advantage of the gravel of the Finestre, while Savoldelli struggles. Simoni is within 4 seconds of the pink jersey at the top.
On the descent and the final climb Savoldelli manages to hold on and wins the Giro with a 28 second gap. Rujano 3rd at 45 seconds. The footage is absolutely amazing.
2008: Going in to the final Sunday time trial, Contador has just a 4 second advantage in the fight for pink. This Giro was so hard that Contador actually didn’t win a single stage!
2009: Start in Venice, Climb up Vesuvius, climb up Blockhaus, the time trial to Riomaggiore that took the winner more than an hour and a half to finish!! This Giro was epic. And as a bonus, it featured the most spectacular time trial course ever, through the cobbled streets of Rome past the Forum, the Vatican, the Colosseum, and it all ended with that infamous Menchov crash:
Of course, Zomegnan was “lucky” with that crash, but love it or hate it, he did manage to convince Armstrong to come race the Giro which resulted in a massive increase in interest. Has RAI forgotten that?
2010: Start in Amsterdam, Strade Bianche mudfest, 50 riders take 13min on the pink jersey in stage 11, Monte Zoncolan, Plan de Corones, Passo del Mortirolo, Passo di Gavia, finish inside the amphitheatre of Verona. This photo says it all:
It’s easy to look at the 2011 Giro and conclude it wasn’t the most exciting, but nobody scores 100%. As course designers go, Zomegnan and his team have done exceptionally. Maybe the Giro doesn’t need one director who is responsible for everything but please, please, please, keep a journalist like Zomegnan in the role of course designer and race philosopher.