May 31 2006
So the ’06 Giro is finally over. And thank fÂµÂ¢&ing God. Sure, the seven years of bad Tour luck in the form of Lance Armstrong (brought on, I’m told, by Pantani breaking his Coke mirror) delivered more than their fair share of dull Grand Tours. But now, with the Texan retired, to have the light at the end of the tunnel turn out to be an oncoming Ivan Basso? Not what I wanted to see. Say what you will about the Armstrong Tours, but at least they had subplots – some nice duels for the Green Jersey, Cipo’ racking up more stage wins and fines in a week than most riders see in a career, Team T-Meltdown, and that whole Simeoni thing. It may have been boring, but it was never dull.
This year’s Giro, on the other hand, was kind of like reading a novelized version of Fantasia: pretty to watch, mind-numbing to think about. What was the big story? Basso flattening the field? Jan Ullirch winning a TT? Yawn. There was that ongoing Spanish drug bust, an interesting story in it’s own right, but it’s impact on the Giro appears to be limited to one very predictable source (what is it with cyclists and txt messaging, anyway?). There was that whole money scandal, too, I suppose, but when you get right down to it, it’s just dumb. I mean think about it – assuming Basso did offer 10,000 Euros for a stage win, if Simoni had accepted the offer, how exactly would the CSC rider collect the charge? I’m pretty sure missing payments on this sort of thing doesn’t show up a on a credit report.
In recent years, the Giro and Vuelta have kind of shouldered the load for the Tour de France, reminding us exactly how compelling Grand Tour stage races can be. So a drab Giro could be a good sign for July, an indicator that the Tour is finally coming to the front to take its pull against the headwind of monotony. But I doubt it. Bjarne Riis doubts it. Bob Roll disagrees with us (it’s under “Blogke”), but he also thinks his site looks good. I can’t say I have any empirical evidence for my sensation of forboding, as Floyd Landis (Cali, Paris-Nice, Georgia) and Valverde (Fleche, Liege) have proven themselves worthy adversaries to il Terrible, while Leipheimer and Vinokourov will no doubt pen Letters of Intent for the Champs-Elysees this weekend at the Dauphine. Here’s to a bona fide GC battle later this year.