Sunday, May 19, 2013

Biased Blow-by-Blow - Giro d’Italia Stage 15


In an earlier post I discussed the merits of totally biased reporting on the Giro d’Italia stage race.  This morning, I caught the last 30K of today’s stage—the crucial climbs of the Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Galibier.  Below I provide my blow-by-blow of the race for the benefit of anybody who may have missed it and wants a more colorful commentary than is offered by the responsible journalists at

My biased blow-by-blow of the final 20K of Stage 15

As I join the action, this lousy commentator, Declan somebody, is speaking.  This isn’t surprising; he’s like the ubiquitous iron pyrite to Sean Kelly’s occasional gold nuggets.  “It’s exciting to seem them scrapping it out.”  This pointless statement is only somewhat redeemed by the odd Britishism at the end.  Look, pal, you can’t make a race seem exciting by simply declaring that it is.  Besides, it’s exciting  to begin with so if you don’t have something intelligent to say, just be quiet.

The race is approaching the Col du Télégraphe.  What would this climb be named today?  Col du Cell Tower?

I remember this climb from racing La Marmotte, a one-day cyclosportif.  The Télégraphe is the kind of Category 2 climb that makes me laugh at anybody who calls some local climb an HC.  It’s brutal.  Of course, you laugh at the Télégraphe itself in retrospect if cruel fate has you tackling the Galibier next.

It’s incredible that I woke up, without an alarm, just in time to tune in as the race approaches this point.  I’d like to thank my parents, for not giving me an allowance and thus forcing me to become a paperboy and lifelong morning person, and my wife, for selecting curtains for the bedroom that are about as opaque as a single sheet of newsprint.

Cadel Evans is removing his arm warmers.  I’m glad I didn’t have to see him putting them on, since I’m rooting for him.  Putting on arm warmers is one of the more dangerous moves in cycling:  several times my fingers have slipped off the top of them, causing me to punch myself in the face.  Not a good move, especially as you begin a descent.

It’s kind of fun watching the ads on Eurosport.  There’s something kind of amateur and facile about them, compared to ours ... Euro ads don’t fill me with the same sense that I’m being manipulated subconsciously somehow.

It is said that the (movie) camera adds five pounds (or is it ten)?  If that’s the case, these stage racers would be kind of creepy in real life.

“The action is starting to hot up.”  This is the second time I’ve heard this during the past week.  It validates the assertion that “there’s scarcely a word in the language that can’t be verbed.”  I don’t like this expression “hot up.”  Needless to say it wasn’t Sean Kelly who said it.  He doesn’t go for such silly linguistic novelties; he’s as old-school that way as he was with his equipment (last guy still using toe clips, etc.).  This Declan clown probably says “process-eez” as well.

Robert Gesink has attacked!  Peter Stetina is dropped.  Kelly says, in so many words, that Gesink is doomed.  I have to agree:  the poor guy is hauling a giant titanium rod up the mountain, inside his femur, and if that isn’t a disadvantage, it’s at least enough to keep me making excuses for my own poor performance.

Gesink has removed his helmet and put it back on, while climbing a 10% grade at like 15 MPH.  He should get some sort of award for that.  (In the US he’d probably get DQ’d.)  I have no idea why he did that, other than perhaps to show off.

He’s with some Euskaltel bloke.

Some announcers say “Hay-sink,” others “Guess-ink.”  I choose the former because my expatriate brother (over in Holland) says they pronounce Gouda (the cheese) “How-da” over there.  I usually try to be as Euro as possible, on the theory that it gives an air of sophistication to my lifelong role of social outcast.

Three guys have attacked the main peloton.  I’m not going to figure out their names because they’re doomed anyway and their names won’t matter in another few kilometers.

The Euskeltel guy, Esteban, makes a gesture to Gesink that seems to mean “keep it steady, no bursts.”  Either that or “Keep your head down, we’re about to be shelled.”

Betancur of AG2R has pointlessly attacked.  I say “pointless” because AG2R seem to be the doomed-attack specialists.  That said, Betancur had a great result yesterday.

We’re getting a super-slow-mo of Esteban’s hand gesture.  Declan takes it to mean “Let’s slow down and see who can come up to us and help.”  If so, perhaps he’s right. 

A Radio Shack and a Sky have come up.  Kiserlovski and Hanao.  Gesink may well benefit from having breakaway companions with proper helmets.  Estaban’s helmet is one of these weird Orbea ones that look like they’re on backwards.  I doubt it slows him down, but I just can’t picture anybody winning in such a helmet.

Gesink’s group is being joined by Di Luca.  Perhaps that’s just the kind of dope-fired muscle this group needs, though the filthy soulless doper hasn’t had his dosages right in years, judging by his results.  He’s in this gross neon yellow, including yellow shorts, so he looks the dork that he is.  (My daughter would point out that actual neon is never yellow in color, by the way.  But you know what I mean.)  A rider like Di Luca should be wearing a very dull, unassuming color because that would be the closest thing to him just going away, which is really what needs to happen.

Evans is sitting a couple wheels behind Vincenzo Nibali in the peloton, looking fine.  The way he holds himself on the bike, you can spot him easily from away off.

So apparently the leader of the race is this Movistar guy.  He also has a funny looking helmet, Catlike I think, and only 29 seconds over the group behind him, so I think he’ll be caught.  Then again, riders have done well with those awful Giro helmets with barely any vents, so perhaps my silly-helmet-can’t-win theory is bogus.

Wow ...they’re showing some footage of the snow atop the Galibier.  It’s like fricking Hoth or something.  Unbelievable.

My wife actually comes over to watch for a minute.  I tell her they’re on the Télégraphe.  She remembers this climb from driving the La Marmotte course with me a decade ago.  “It’s green,” she says—indeed, greener than it was in July when we were there.  Now she’s lost interest.  Her interest lasted far less than a minute, actually.

Gesink looks super-strong.  He’s forging ahead and the others are scrambling to close the gaps he’s creating.

Giovanni Visconti is the Movistar guy. He’s finished the Télégraphe, which is to the Galibier what paying your phone bill is to paying your mortgage.  Having cracked at the summit of the Télégraphe myself, I pity anybody in this race who has overestimated himself and overcooked it.

Visconti has only 11 seconds on the next group.

I guess these guys aren’t doing the entire Galibier ... the race promoters had to move the finish line down 4K from the top because of the conditions.  Cool, they’re showing a marmot up there, immensely fluffy and not minding the snow.  Well, he’s not complaining, anyway.  What would that sound like?  A marmot complaining, I mean?

Visconti is in a full tuck on the short descent to Valloire.  He’s really hauling ass.  It’s always a thrill to get to coast after so much climbing.

Okay, Visconti is a couple minutes ahead of the Gesink group.  There’s also a trio of chasers, though, who are only 20 seconds behind him, but there’s very little footage of these guys.  It’s hard to come late to the party and sort out who’s where.

Visconti is now on the lower slopes of the Col du Galibier.  This climb starts off bad and then gets worse, and then even worse.

The chase group is Pirazzi, Weening, and Rabottini.  Weening is starting to drop the other two.  Everybody’s legs look heavy ... or perhaps I’m just projecting based on how badly this climb destroyed me, twice (2003 and 2006).

Visconti ditches a bottle and gets a replacement.  Based on how it smacked the road I’d say it was at least half full.  Maybe he didn’t like what was in it.

Gesink’s group isn’t really that far from the pink jersey group ... only about 40 seconds.

Every few minutes I get a pop-up ad that blocks my screen for 20 seconds.  It’s always for the Flash player and pretends to be a system message from my PC advising that I need this Flash plug-in to see the video.  How stupid do they think I am?  I hate them.

Rabottini has attacked the other two in his group.  I know nothing about this rider other than I hate his bright yellow uniform.  Surely he’ll pay for this.

Evans is still two wheels behind Nibali back in the group.

There’s a light rain, droplets on the camera lens.

Wow, Rabottini is really flying.  I hope he knows what he’s doing.  Actually, I hope he doesn’t.  But good on him anyway.  I’m ambivalent.  Who is this guy?

So, 9K to go.  It’s a pity they’re not going all the way to the top, because it’s in the final few kilos that the grade gets really steep.

Declan just said “Hay-sink.”  This is noteworthy because he said “Guess-ink” earlier.  Perhaps Kelly has rubbed off on him, or maybe he’d rather be right half the time than risk being wrong all the time.

I think Gesink et al have been absorbed.

Pirazzi and Weening are about ten seconds behind Rabottini.  Is there a pasta shape called Rabottini?  There ought to be.

Wow ... footage of the finish, and it’s snowing pretty hard up there!  Remember that Tour de France in 2003 where a heat wave hit France, and Lance, the pretend leader, almost lost his yellow jersey to Ullrich due to dehydration?  That was the same week as La Marmotte so I experienced that heat wave firsthand.  It was like 95 degrees at the base of the Télégraphe, but still cool atop the Galibier, and there was still snow up there then, in July!  It’s just a harsh summit all the way around.

It’s 6K to go for Visconti and about 8% average grade from here.

Rabottini may be starting to fade ... he’s 55 seconds behind Visconti now.

The peloton is stretched out in a line.  The hammer has gone down!

Astana has a guy on the front of the peloton keeping it steady for Nibali.

Some Euskaltel guy has attacked.  Olympic champ Samuel Sanchez, perhaps.  Two guys have gone with him.  He’s got 5K to bridge a 2:19 gap ... he might do it.  It’s Damiano Caruso with him.  “They’re not danger men,” Kelly asserts.  The peloton does seem to have let them go ... or maybe those two are just going too fast.

I wonder if I myself can hang on?  I don’t know if it’s the sight of this awful climb or what, but I’ve had a mounting urge to defecate all morning.  But I can’t bear to miss any of this race!  Don’t worry, if things get ugly for me I’ll keep it to myself.

My wife came in again to open the window blinds.  “Is it stimulating for you to watch this?” she says euphemistically.  She knows me well!

Visconti now has 1:07 to Rabottini, 1:51 to Sanchez and Caruso.  But now there’s an ad for Support & Advice for Caregivers blocking my view.  I couldn’t care less about caregivers right now.  Sorry.

It’s totally blowing snow now as Visconti makes his way, and there’s gobs of snow along the margin of the road.  He’s got less than 3K to go.  He looks pretty miserable.

Back in the group, a Lampre guy has attacked the (depleted) field.  Astana is right on the front and this is their move to cover.

My video feed is breaking up here and there ... a problem with the satellite, or this web server I’m connected to?  I can’t complain though because it’s warm in my house here and these guys are racing through a blizzard.

Evans is dangerously far back in this group.  Uran is bound to launch an attack any second now, and Nibali will be keen to capatilize if he can. 

Nibali has attacked!  He’s got a Lampre and some yellow guy.  Evans is grinding his way back up as well.  The field is in tatters.  DAAAAAAAMN!

The group is less than two minutes from Visconti, who has 1.3K to go.  Rabottini is being slowly slaughtered by the mountain.

Two more guys attack and Nibali is right on them.  Evans is drilling it to stay on Nibali.

Visconti is under the 1K banner.  It’s an 11% grade for him.

A Colombian has just attacked the group.  He looks to be about 12 years old.  He’s just darling.

Evans attacks!  It looks pretty impressive but a few seconds later he’s been completely neutralized.

My kid is in my face!  She’s asking for my camera so she can record a soap opera with her Polly Pockets!  I can’t shake her!

She’s gone.  I contrived a difficult location for her to search in for the camera.  That’ll take her at least a couple minutes.  Not very nice, I know, but it’s coming down to the wire here!

I think Visconti has got this one in the bag!

He has 150 meters to go, though he’s barely moving forward anymore.  Longest 150 meters of his life I’m sure.

He’s got the win!  Pretty good victory salute, considering.  He got both arms up in the air, which I’d say took about 25 more calories than I supposed he had left.

A few random dudes have dropped the GC contenders and will get the time bonuses, thus effectively neutralizing the GC battle.

I guess the lead group has crossed the line ... another dang ad blocked my view.  Wow, the pack shattered toward the end there.  It’s onsies-twosies over the line.  Here comes an Astana guy who must have detonated right at the end after slaying himself for Nibali all day.

Nibali 7th, Evans 8th ... only 54 seconds behind Visconti.  They were closing it up fast there.

Super-slow-mo of Visconti winning.  Man:  sheets of snow coming down.

This Lampre guy not only has the ugliest helmet in the race, but probably in all of cycling.  A plain white dome, no vents, and little pink and blue piping.  It’s so eighties.  He should be relegated for that helmet as it’s a disgrace to the sport.

No real change to the GC.

At 23:00 CST Eurosport will be showing the Tour of California.  Right on!  I’m glad our race seems legit to the UK broadcasters and their fans.

A bunch of ads now.  There is this Eurosport ad that hasn’t changed in like three years.  They’re certainly getting their money’s worth out of it, assuming it still has any effect on the viewers.  It’s not like this ad is the reason I’m watching Eurosport .  I mean, where else am I going to watch the Giro d’Italia ... the Nashville Network?

Hmm.  After the commercials, I’m suddenly thrust into the Tour of Norway.  Oddly, it’s much sunnier on this course.

Switching to DEFCOM2, Rai Sport (in Italian).  It’s a combo of talking heads and footage.  Visconti has his weird stuffed bucket thingy and his flowers.  He’s getting his kisses.  The podium girls, in sleeveless dresses, are real sports.  Visconti is looking at the champagne bottle as if to say, “Do I have to?”  He should be spraying hot coffee on everybody.

Okay, that does it.  I have to go see a man about a horse.  This concludes your albertnet coverage of Stage 15 of the 2013 Giro d’Italia...

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