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David L. Stanley

2023 Giro d'Italia Wrap-Up:
English speakers have come to race

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David Stanley is an experienced cycling writer. His work has appeared in Velo, Velo-news.com, 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 was 1976. I was 18 and focused on keeping a black and white ball out of the net. I rode bikes as a sport tourist, as a way to gain fitness without having to run as much as my teammates out on the pitch. American Mike Neel rode bikes as a way to prove a point. Neel, a newly minted pro with the Italian Magniflex squad, stunned American cycling fans with his 10th place at the World Championships in Ostuni, Italy. Mike was ostensibly riding for the US, but in fact, his main soigneur support was courtesy of his connections with the Italian squad.

It was the spring of 1979. I rode my first USCF bicycle race. It was in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on a classically gorgeous May morning, on a circuit course that I would race many times over the next 20 years. My race was staged at the end of May. At the same time, Beppe Saronni (SCIC-Bottecchia) was winning the Giro d’Italia. I crashed, remounted, and finished with a couple of the guys involved in the crash that I caused. It would not be the last crash I caused.

Two Anglophones took part in that Giro: England’s Phil Edwards (Sanson-Luxor TV) and the Aussie Clyde Sefton (Zonca-Santini)

Phil Edwards (on right) racing in 1976. Next to him is Marc Demeyer.

It was 1984. The first US-Registered professional cycling team took part in the Giro. G.S. Gianni Motta was the brainchild of legendary US pro John Eustice and managed by the equally legendary Robin Morton. She was the first female cycling director in the stern patriarchy of world pro cycling. Motta, at the Giro, was comprised of 6 native English speakers, a Luxembourgian, a West German, and a Belgian.

  1. John Eustice USA        
  2. Karl Maxon   USA
  3. Dan Franger  USA
  4. Michael Carter USA
  5. Tim Rutledge USA
  6. Greg Saunders USA
  7. Claude Michely LUX
  8. Rudy Weber W. GER
  9. Guy Janiszewski  BEL

They raced with courage in a Grand Tour decided between Francesco Moser (GIS-Gelati) and the rising star Laurent Fignon (Renault-ELF). Moser’s time trial skills proved the secret.

It was 1981. Aussie Phil Anderson (Peugeot) became the first non-Euro to wear the Yellow Jersey.

It was 1986. American Andy Hampsten, with the 7-11 team, won the Tour de Suisse. He was the first American to win a 10-day Euro-pro stage race. This would mark the first major win for an American rider on an American team.

Andy Hampsten after winning stage 20 of the 1985 Giro d'Italia.

1986. The greatest American cyclist of all time, Greg LeMond, became the first American to win a Grand Tour. He triumphed in a bitter duel with La Vie Claire teammate Bernard Hinault for the maillot jaune.

It was 1987. Hampsten, still with 7-11 team, again won the Tour de Suisse.

It was 1988. Andy was the first American to capture a Grand Tour, the Giro, with an American team, the Slurpees of 7-11. He also took that Giro's Mountains and Combination classification along the way. You should know that the Director Sportif of that team was Mike Neel.

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It is the time period from 1977-1994. Ireland’s Sean Kelly proves himself to be one of the most accomplished all-round riders of all-time. (Although, if you’ve heard Sean speak when he gets excited, you’ll be hard-pressed to recognize his English through that Carrick-on-Suir accent.)

Over my 45 years as a bike racer, fan, and journo, I’ve watched as Anglophones moved from non-existent to a curiosity to a dominant force in cycling. I’ve listened as English has become one of the dominant languages behind the scenes of pro cycling.

Take a look; here’s a list of the Anglophone starters in the 2023 Giro d’Italia.

  1. Larry Warbasse USA (AG2R Citroën)
  2. Kaden Groves AUS (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
  3. Mark Cavendish GB (Astana Qazaqstan)
  4. Joe Dombrowski USA (Astana Qazaqstan)     
  5. Jack Haig AUS (Bahrain-Victorious)
  6. Patrick Konrad AUS (Bora-Hansgrohe)
  7. Hugh Carthy GB (EF Education-EasyPost)
  8. Stefan de Bod RSA (EF Education-EasyPost)
  9. Ben Healy IRI (EF Education-EasyPost)
  10. Jake Stewart GB (Groupama-FDJ)
  11. Tao Geoghegan Hart GB (Ineos-Grenadiers)
  12. Ben Swift GB (Ineos-Grenadiers)
  13. Geraint Thomas, MBE, OBE, GB (Ineos-Grenadiers)
  14. Sebastian Berwick AUS (Israel-PremierTech)
  15. Simon Clarke AUS (Israel-PremierTech)
  16. Derek Gee CAN (Israel-PremierTech)
  17. Matthew Riccitello USA (Israel-PremierTech)
  18. Stephen Williams GB (Israel-PremierTech)
  19. Rohan Dennis AUS (Jumbo-Visma)
  20. Sepp Kuss USA (Jumbo-Visma)
  21. Thomas Gloag GB (Jumbo-Visma)
  22. Will Barta USA (Movistar)
  23. Michael Matthews AUS (Jayco-AlUla)
  24. Eddie Dunbar AUS (Jayco-AlUla)
  25. Michael Hepburn AUS (Jayco-AlUla)
  26. Callum Scotson AUS (Jayco-AlUla)
  27. Campbell Stewart AUS (Jayco-AlUla)
  28. Ryan Gibbons RSA (UAE TEAM Emirates)
  29. Brandon McNulty USA (UAE TEAM Emirates)
  30. Jay Vine AUS (UAE TEAM Emirates)

Native English speakers made up 14% of the gruppo. If you take out the handful of small, regional Italian teams which earn an invite on the basis of their Italian race results, about 1 in 5 starters of this year’s Giro spoke English as their 1st language.


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Most impressively, the Anglophones were not mere packfillers.

Michigan’s own Larry Warbasse was critical to the success of AG2r’s big guys, the two Paret-Peintre boys.

Kaden Groves won a rain-marred stage 5 with stunning power.

Kaden Groves wins 2023 Giro stage five. Sirotti photo

Mark Cavendish did a major Cav thing on the stage that mattered most in Rome.

Joe Dombrowski climbed with the leaders in the high mountains to finish 59th.

Ben Healy won stage 8 and his riding electrified the race.

Tao would have been a certain candidate for the final podium had he not shattered his femur in a nasty crash on wet roads.

Sir Geraint: well, if you need me to tell you what G meant to this Giro, you’ve clearly stumbled onto Bike Race Info by mistake.

Gee, Derek. If cycling had a Man of the Match, it was Mr. Gee. He was in every break that mattered. He took 4 second places on stages. He took 2nd place in the mountains competition. He took 2nd place in the points competition. He took 2nd place in the breakaway competition. He won the unofficial combativity competition. All in his first Grand Tour. An extraordinary three weeks on the bike. One of the greatest performances ever for a first-time Grand Tour rider.

Matthew Riccitello. His Giro highlighted his climbing expertise and promises well for the future.

Sepp Kuss. Without Sepp Kuss at his side, Primoz is on the second step of the podium. Maybe the third. Kuss saved this Giro, time after time, for his team captain. Without Sepp, Primoz does not win. Full stop.

Michael Matthews took an excellent win on Stage 3.

Eddie Dunbar had the race of his lifetime to snag 7th place on GC.

Brandon McNulty took Stage 15, a day designed to mimic Il Lombardia, one of the five Monuments of pro cycling, and the last major race of the year. After McNulty’s performance near Bergamo, the gruppo is not going to let young Brandon roll off the front on October 7th this year.

Brandon McNulty wins stage 15. Sirotti photo

About those men I didn’t single out: every Grand Tour is extremely difficult. The weather which surrounded this year’s Giro made it doubly so. Those guys who took the start, everyone deserves respect. Huge respect.

Only 125 riders of 218 starters made it to Rome. Let’s do the math, shall we?

125 finishers/218 starters =57.33% finish ratio.


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In plain English, fewer than 6 of 10 starters were able to complete the race. Some were the result of Covid. Some, the normal illness and crashes and fatigue that grinds down the athletes. Some, crashes caused by the simply abysmal weather. This is one of the most savage survivor ratios I’ve seen in many years. Yet of the 30 English speaking riders on the start line, 24 of those men saw Rome on their bikes.

80%.

4 of 5 English speaking starters made it to Rome.

85 to 90 hours of racing at your redline in some of the most godawful conditions in years. 3,364 km, with an average speed of 39.5km/hr.

From one lonely American, Mike Neel, to one of the dominant voices in the gruppo, here’s to the English-speaking men who race their bikes for a living at the highest level of the sport. Mike Neel, I suspect you are proud of what you hath wrought. I know I am.

To the Anglophones who made this race, I salute you! Ti saluto mille volte!

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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