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David L. Stanley

2023 Giro d'Italia: Rest Day One

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David Stanley is an experienced cycling writer. His work has appeared in Velo,, Road, Peloton, and the late, lamented Bicycle Guide (my favorite all-time cycling magazine). Here's his Facebook page. He is also a highly regarded voice artist with many audiobooks to his credit, including McGann Publishing's The Story of the Tour de France and Cycling Heroes.

David L. Stanley

Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle

David L. Stanley's masterful telling of his bout with skin cancer Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

David L. Stanley writes:

It’s called a rest day, this Monday, May 15, the first rest day of Giro 23. But it’s not. More properly, it’s a non-racing day. The athletes go for a 2-3 hour ride and try to make sense of the race to the media at the press conferences throughout the day. The mechanics slow down their frenzied pace as they repair and prep the bikes for the next 7 days of racing. The Team Directors are grilled like fajitas by journos and photogs who need stuff for the non-race day papers and websites. The team chefs get to re-stock the pantries. You get the picture. Ain’t nobody lying around on the chaise lounges drinking Amaro Spritzers.

It’s a working day.

BTW- Here’s the recipe for the spritzer. It’s lovely.
3 ounces dry sparkling white wine. 2 oz Amaro. 1 oz soda water. Lime wheel. Alla nostra salute!

But first—the airing of grievances.
1) Weather. Yes, we can race bicycles in rain. We cannot race safely in delugic thunderstorms. Once again, the UCI has shown it views the riders as far-too-disposable assets. Baseball is not played in anything more than a drizzle because baseballs and bats get oh-so-slippery. Golf is not played in anything more than a drizzle because golf clubs get slippery, too, and if there’s a thunderstorm, well, I’ve lost a half-dozen acquaintances and friends because lightning kills people on courses. When the rain goes from drizzle to downpour, motorsports wheel everyone off the course until the rain stops and the course becomes safe for high speed travel again.

Stage five: Mark Cavendish does down in the rain during the sprint.

In the winter, alpine ski racing events, particularly the speed events of downhill and Super-G are routinely delayed, even cancelled, when wind and snow make the course unsafe at 50+ MPH for the athletes. What the riders had to weather in several stages was not just inhuman. It was unsafe. It looks funny, to see riders at 45 mph slide across the tarmac, spinning like skee-balls. It’s not. The roadrash might be lessened but the bruising is very real from the high speed impact with the road. The UCI has weather rules, the hows and whys on when a stage should be halted. Guess what? Those rules are wrong.

This Just In: As I write this on Sunday morning as the TT is taking place, I see that the Blazers cancelled the last stage of the Tour of Hungary due to adverse weather. The did send the riders out for a few neutralized laps of the final circuit ‘for the fans.’ In the clip I watched, there were plenty of folks out there in the downpour cheering on the guys. Maybe the Blazers are learning. I’m skeptical.

2) GET IN THE CHOPPAH!! There’s a problem here. Stage 7 was a beautiful stage. With the bus convoy parked 26km down the snowy Gran Sasso, some teams flew their riders direct from the mountaintop to their hotels to cut transfer time. Other teams used gondolas, which were open to the public, to make their way down to the buses. The helicopter trip reportedly saved two hours on the gondola-bus combo. The UCI condemned teams who used helicopters to airlift their riders off the mountain after Stage 7’s summit finish at the Giro d’Italia on Friday, saying it "goes against the principles of fair play.”  Hey, UCI! Here’s a thought: maybe when you and the RCS, the Giro’s organizers, plan a stage that ends in a remote area with egress issues, you should also plan to get the athletes off the mountain top in a safe, efficient manner. Perhaps you could work with the local officials to commandeer the gondolas. Put the athletes first. You know, shake things up from your measurements of sock height.

Stage seven had a hilltop finish. But you have to get the riders to the hotel after the stage. Sirotti photo

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3) Drivers drive. Directors direct. Driving a car in the caravan is a full-time job that demands total attention from the driver. I’ve said this before, both here on BRI and on my Feed-Zone podcast on the Cycling Legends pod network—Directors Sportif should not drive the team cars. Let me phrase it differently: It is time to institute, at the top level of the sport, an independent pool of dedicated and trained drivers for each of the team cars. Their sole responsibility? Drive safely in the caravan. Here in my home state of Michigan, Governor Whitmer is expected to sign a bipartisan bill this week with the following provisos.
It will be illegal to drive:

  • Sending or receiving a telephone call.
  • Sending, receiving or reading a text message
  • Viewing, recording or transmitting a video.
  • Accessing, reading or posting to a social networking site.

Seems legit, a short list of things one shouldn’t do if one is a responsible driver.
Meanwhile, back in the peloton, an ex-racer (who invariably races road rallies in the off-season or envisions himself an F1 driver), is watching the TV screen in the car, checking his messages from team members stationed around the course and in other vehicles, listening to race radio and translating it in his head into his native language, speaking to his riders in the peloton, and oh, right, driving the car in a careening mess of vehicles 3 feet from each other at 50 kph.  That’s a recipe for disaster. Ask Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) as his team car moved over on him and he nearly crashed into the side of the vehicle. Or Marc Dörrie at the 2018 PWZ Zuidenveld Tour when a commissaire literally drove over his bike and snapped it into several piece. Or Jesper Skibby, nearly run over on the Koppenberg by a race director’s car in the 1987 Tour of Flanders? BASTA! ENOUGH!

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We’re almost done. 4) Who decided to name the climb in Saturday’s stage "The Cappuccini"? Plural for cappuccino, we all know it as a lovely espresso based drink with a bit of steamed and foamed milk. Quite enjoyable. That climb was most certainly not enjoyed by the majority of the GC men.

THE BIG STORY. He’s Irish, he’s a find for Jonathan Vaughters’ EF Education-EasyPost squad, and his name is Ben Healy. His courageous attack with around 50 km to go on Stage 8 was truly the stuff of dreams. To attack from the group, to hold off the field, to win a stage of a Grand Tour, solo, by 1:46? That’s a career making move. Sláinte, Ben Healy. Sláinte!

Ben Healy was well and truly gone.

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The Sunday Time Trial. The flat 35 km took the athletes from Savignano sul Rubicone to nearby Cesena. (Ironic, eh, that Cesena is home to one of the sport’s greatest climbers, Marco Pantani?) The day set up perfectly for Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep)—now out of the race after a postive Covid-19 test. On a day totally in his favor, Remco came up short. The Belgian champion moved into the maglia rosa but managed to win by only a single second over Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and two seconds over Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers). Evenepoel could hardly celebrate what was his biggest chance of putting a chunk of time into his rivals, although he did gain 17 seconds on Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).

Geraint Thomas on his time trial ride. Sirotti photo

This Giro is far from settled, with the top five clustered within 1:07 of the lead.
1) Evenepoel, Remco @34:33:42 Out of the race.
2) Thomas, Geraint @45 sec
3) Roglic, Primos @47
4) Geoghagen-Hart, Tao @50
5) Almeida, Joao, UAE Team Emirates @1:07 

Don’t be shocked to see Almeida on the top step at the end of all this. A superb climber, an excellent TT man, he can certainly profit from the in-fighting amongst Jumbo-Visma, Soudal-Quickstep, and Ineos-Grenadiers. Joao can follow the wheels, lay low, and then blow the race apart.

Looking ahead, the GC athletes have several flat to rolling stages to get their legs back under them before they take on three serious climbing days on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Friday, they’ll see 207 km from Borgofranco d’Ivrea - Crans Montana with a summit finish. Saturday brings 193 medium mountains from Sierre - Cassano Magnago. On Sunday, they’ll face a brutal 195 km from Seregno – Bergamo before they are granted their next ‘non-racing day’ on Monday, May 22.

David Stanley, like nearly all of us, has spent his life working and playing outdoors. He got a case of Melanoma as a result. Here's his telling of his beating that disease. And when you go out, please put on sunscreen.


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