Velominati Super Prestige: Giro d’Italia

Bugno leads the 1990 Giro

In the 1990 Giro, a relatively unknown cyclist named Gianni Bugno lit the cycling world on fire by winning the first stage, thereby taking the Maglia Rossa. That wasn’t so surprising in itself; what was surprising was that the little bugger managed to hold the jersey all the way to Milan, a feat previously only accomplished by Binda and Merckx postwar, and prewar legend Costante Girardengo.

This all happened in the age before smartphones and social media; while these days a stealth strike on the World’s Most Wanted Dude gets live-tweeted, in 1990 it took until well after I knew Greg LeMond had won the Tour de France before I found out that Bugno had won the Giro. Reading about the feat in Winning magazine, Bugno instantly became one of my heros and went on to cast himself into a bronze statue of Rad by being one of the few riders able to challenge Indurain in the following years. (He also possessed the mental frailty that seems to be common among my favorite riders.  There’s something Shakespearean about heros with flaws that I simply can’t resist.)

The Giro d’Italia is just prestigious enough to be the maker of champions. It’s isn’t made up of a downgraded field like the Vuelta, but it also ins’t as popular as the Tour where only the best riders on the best teams seem to stand a chance. Every Giro produces a revelation that goes onto great things; that’s one of the key reasons this is my favorite Grand Tour: the field is strong enough to have serious contenders, but weak enough to let an outsider play. It’s perfect.

Aside from a well-balanced field, the geography of Italy lends itself to a better three week race than do France or Spain. Many European companies are defined by natural borders such as mountains or water, which generally means the mountains and great bodies of water lie at the borders with plains in between. (Or, as is the case with the Netherlands, beneath.) Italy is unique in that it is narrow and has mountainous terrain in nearly every region. Whereas the first week(s) of the Tour and Vuelta feature mostly flat stages suited for the sprinters and little else, the Giro’s first week generally contains several mountaintop finishes. The difficulty of a typical Giro’s first week means that riders who ride strongly there typically fade towards the end, while riders who were weak on the first climbs may come on strong as the race closes down.  The result is a tight race from start to finish with regular changes in leadership. Except in 1990. And whatever years those other three guys who did what Gianni did.

This year’s Giro will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy by making strong men cry. Forty major climbs, and 7 mountain top finishes, one of which involves climbing Mount Etna twice. (Welcome to Sicily, assholes. You get to ride up the most active volcano on Earth twice.) I have it on the excellent authority of a man down the pub that Contador is stocking up on extra drugs even as I write this in an attempt to quiet the rattle of his skinny little bones in his spanish boots.

With that we kick off the best Grand Tour of the year, and the first test of our Grand Tour VSP Software.  The other VSP editions have been a piece of cake. Grand Tours include free “swapping of the picks” logic whenever a rider in a contestent’s pick list drops out. We have rest day swaps for 2 or 4 points each, depending on which rest day it is. Our system is supposed to handle all of this smoothly and seamlessly. We’ll see.

Read the scoring guidelines, work out your strategy, dope up on clairvoyance drugs (alcohol) and chuck your picks up. As usual, the winner of this VSP edition will earn an “Obey the Rules” bumper sticker and all reader’s points qualify towards the final prize of the free personalized Velominati Shop Apron. If you are inclined to enter, simply post your predictions for the top five placings in the designated area above the posts section, bearing in mind that entry/modification of picks closes at 5am Pacific time on the day of the race. You are eligible to swap picks at no penalty for your picked riders who drop out; rest day picks each come at a 2 point penalty for the first rest day, 4 points each for the second.

Good luck.

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786 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Giro d’Italia”

  1. @Steampunk
    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally.

    No change in the GC today, but take note that (a) anyone with Pinotti in their picks gets a free swap today (Piti Principle applies) and (b) we’ll be posting a VSP for tomorrow’s stage as well.

    [vsp_score id=”8232″]

  2. David Millar for the win in the ITT! That’s awesome, I’m super glad to see him rake in another win like that. Good on him.

    Clentador takes the Maglia Rosa, and, assuming King Kelly was wrong and J-Rod still holds fifth, @MikeyEyesore takes the win for the VSP and will wear the Maglia Rosa badge for the remainder of the year. Congratulations!

    [vsp_score id=”8232″]


  3. Well it was a great race with some very low points. It’s amazing to see just how dominant Clenbutador is at the moment. I do cringe every time he opens his mouth though. He sounds somewhat like a drowning Elmo.

  4. @Oli

    @Frank – it’s Maglia ROSA, not Rossa.

    There are few things on Earth I hate more that Autocorrect on the iPad/iPhone. If you use anything other than normal English words, it’s useless and infuriating.

    Anyway, thanks and corrected.

  5. @minion
    Elmo is already a nice hue of V-orange. (Though “HTFU” is not the first phrase which comes to mind when you think of him.)

    Chapeau, Mikey Eyesore.

    Roll on the Dauphine…

  6. Oli :
    Yuss, 63rd!! My first VSP GT couldn’t have gone better!
    @Frank – it’s Maglia ROSA, not Rossa.

    Oli, at least Ron has been close enough on GC to justify Doing A Ron.

    You, on the other hand…

  7. Lots of great racing in this Giro. I enjoyed it a lot…and the fun with all the VSP picks didn’t hurt either!

    Marcus – I’ve been riding a ton lately, and the VMH got back to the U.S. after I hadn’t seen her in six weeks. Too much going on to get Ronned up about things of late:)

    Oli has been taking up the slack!

    What’s next? Are we off until the TdF?

    Enjoy your Monday holiday tomorrow, Velominati, if you are getting one!

  8. Oli:
    Yuss, 63rd!! My first VSP GT couldn’t have gone better!
    @Frank – it’s Maglia ROSA, not Rossa.

    I think I have the White Jersey for best new rider at 17 for this GT. Anyone else want to claim it?

    Can’t complain with that.

  9. Marcus:

    Oli :
    Yuss, 63rd!! My first VSP GT couldn’t have gone better!
    @Frank – it’s Maglia ROSA, not Rossa.

    Oli, at least Ron has been close enough on GC to justify Doing A Ron.
    You, on the other hand…

    I know, I know…the SHAME.

  10. Steampunk – I too feel very, very empty this morning. I’m at a loss for what to do with my 9-11:15 slot as well, since I’ve been watching the Giro for weeks at this time. I just tried reading the sports section of the newspaper, but I really don’t care about the Indy 500 or ACC baseball…

    My VMH said to me last night when we were going to bed, “Okay, well what time do you need to watch the racing tomorrow?” It’s over. “It is?” Yeah, why do you think I was showing you the pink podium and the celebration? “Oh, I see.”

    Emptiness for sure.

    Oli – Keep that chin up! Nothing wrong with going Oli on the VSP:)

  11. Chapeau, Mikey Eyesore.

    Frank, can I get my “13” put upside down please?

    @Steampunk +1… only a week to go until the Dauphine though…

  12. Thanks for the love, everybody. Last year I watched my first bike race, the Tour de Suisse, and bought my first bike. This year, I’m picking the GC successfully, and spent time in Greenville for the US Pros. Funny what can change in a year.

  13. The only reason I picked Scarponi over Nibbles is because SkullKrusher on the Speed Metal Cycling podcast was gushing about him. The real credit is his.

  14. @LA Dave

    Queen stage of the 2012 Giro announced. 218k over the Teglio da Bianzone, Mortirolo and finishing on the Stelvio. Getting goose bumps just thinking about it.
    Hopefully the Vuelta follow suit with their 2012 edition as well.

    Was just reading about this stage a few minutes ago. Man, I wonder if the riders will protest or not. That has to be one of the toughest stages in a Grand Tour in the last 50 years. Unbelievably hard.

  15. @Buck Rogers

    @LA Dave
    Was just reading about this stage a few minutes ago. Man, I wonder if the riders will protest or not. That has to be one of the toughest stages in a Grand Tour in the last 50 years. Unbelievably hard.

    And the fact that it is the 20th stage magnifies that even more. The level of strategy in the preceding stages will be very interesting. Attack in those stages and hope to hold on in stage 20? Or save up energy on those stages and take your shot up the Stelvio? Or rule V on both? Should be epic.

  16. I wonder if the Giro will adopt a Vuelta quirk and put an intermediate sprint half way up the Stelvio.

  17. 5600m over a 218km stage?! I predict pain!!

    Dear Merckx, makes me want to poo just thinking about it…

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