Sure, every national tour wants to see home-grown talent on the top of the podium. But I don’t think any other country tries as Italy to make that desire a reality.
An example: the chairs provided to Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso at the post-race show after today’s stage. Basso is clearly sitting on a gilded throne, while Evan’s “chair” could more aptly be described as “a stool with a back”—and this is minutes after the Aussie beat the Italian by 30 seconds!
(via @BMCProTeam, h/t to @mmmaiko)
I should note that this is hardly the first example. As recently as two days ago, Evans recounted fans pushing Ivan Basso while instructing others spectators not to assist “the foreigner”.
Another Australian, Robbie McEwen, has had a rough time with the Giro officials. In 2003, he was stripped of a win for closing the gate on Fabio Baldato, and in 2004, was relegated again for a barely-visible hand-sling in the closing kilometers. Both sanctions were correct within the rules, but it’s tough to imagine similar punishments being handed down against Cipo’.
In the ’84 Giro, Laurent Fignon lost the overall to Francesco Moser on the final day’s TT. While Moser had the advantage of a futuristic aero machine, Fignon claimed the deciding factor was the camera helicopter, which had used its downdraft first to push the Italian, and then to impede him. It’s worth noting this was a claim Fignon did not level after losing the ’89 TdF in similar fashion.
And perhaps most notoriously, Eddy Merckx was booted from the 1969 Giro after essentially wrapping-up the GC win. The reason? A dope charge. In days where stimulant use was all but accepted, and drug testing poorly monitored, the ejection is widely considered to have been unfair, or at least suspicious. Certainly, the mostly-clean, entirely-dominant career Merckx went on to have is a vote in his favor.
So no wonder then that the Giro has seen only two foreign winners in the past 14 years, a home-court advantage at least as favorable as any other major cycling event, let alone any Grand Tour— and one that may become even more lopsided, pending the fate of Alejandro Valverde.
thoughts on “Foreigners At The Giro: An Uphill Battle”
I read Evans’ account of the Italian-friendly pushes, but I missed that photo! Kudos for picking it up.
Probably the most damning incident of the 1984 was not the alleged helicopter push but the cancellation of the final mountain stage on account of “snow” that wasn’t really there. Also, apparently the Giro has a tendency to tailor its routes to the strengths of the current crop of Italian riders. The routes of the early ’80s were ridiculously flat because the two best Italians of the day were Moser and Saronni. The past decade, of course, has seen a wealth of Italian climbers and a dearth of Italian time-trialists — hence the insanely mountainous routes.
This may also account, of course, for the proliferation of long, breakaway-friendly stages in the TDF!
I’m just a little concerned at the jaunty and provocative manner in which Cadel is holding his mic which contrasts rather alarmingly with Ivan’s rather childlike Smurf hat!
Hilarious photo! Thanks for sharing.
If you are an Aussie cycling fan, you will recall Bettini shutting the gate on Baden Cooke on stage 4 of the 2005 Giro to Frosinone (https://autobus.cyclingnews.com/road/2005/giro05/?id=results/giro054). Bettini was clearly outgunned to the former maillot vert winner and once he’d looked over his shoulder to assess the position, decided that riding Cooke into the barriers was the best course of action. It was flagrant. All the more disappointing because Cooke was just coming back into form after injury the previous year. Bettini was a great rider but (to me, at least) his actions in Frosinone showed that he lacked class.
The end result: Bettini 4th, Cooke last on the stage. Which was apparently the technically correct position on a strict application of the rules, but if it had been the other way around Cooke would have been given a 2.5 week holiday and Bettini the stage.
@Nof: Actually, it’s pretty rare for a rider who has been intentionally crashed out in a sprint to be awarded anything; it may have happened at some point, but I can’t think of one.
The closest thing that comes to mind is Abdoujaparov at the 1991 TdF, and he crashed his own dumb self out, literally sprinting straight into the barriers on the final day.
Despite the fact that he was essentially carried across the line—possibly outside the time cut—he was awarded the Green Jersey after what were arguably the most terrifying three weeks in the history of cycling.
That said, you’re right that Cooke probably would have earned a one-way ticket back to Oz instead of a “relegation” to 4th place. It’s a real shame, too, since he needed a win badly at that point in his career—still does, in a way.
I saw the phot shortly after the stage finished didnt notice the chairs but was more impresses by Basso’s relaxed slouch, its easy to understand why now.
make it a real up hill battle! Its snowing on the Gavia with 4-6 m drifts on the side of the road they are talking of rerouting the stage, bollix they should run it and put this Giro on the top shelf of Giro’s and for that matter Grand tours, it wont be far off there now! sign me up for the 12hr HTRWW Giro 2010 blue ray HD DVD, NOW!
it’s incredible ! is one guy an BMC team and another Liquigas ?