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. @ramenvelo

    Do you believe that Contador would continue to dope when he’s under this much scrutiny?

    I think doping is part and parcel of what these guys are. They know how to avoid the positive tests (mostly) and are completely dependent on it. Not to mention that they are in a psychological place where they don’t consider it cheating or wrong. You should read “Breaking the Chain” if you haven’t already. If you can find it.

    You can see it in examples like Di Luca using CERA when he knew other riders already had tested positive for it, and after he’d just come off a doping suspension already, not to mention the various investigations they’re under.

    Another thing that surprises me about him is that he is actually a very choppy rider. Especially when he’s standing, his is not a Magnificent Stroke; he’s very choppy and jerky. Not the fluidity you’d have seen from a Gaul or a Pantani. More the style you saw from a Chiappucci or Virenque. Draw whatever connection you want there.

    Another thing I’ve noticed about him – and I’m getting crazy now – is the lack of definition in his guns. There is an interesting trend I’ve noticed which is far from reliable but that riders like Hamilton, Landis, and Ricco all have very undefined leg muscles. All of them were obviously unapologetic dopers. But that model falls apart very quickly, just look at Di Luca, Armstrong, etc for riders who doped and have nicely defined muscles, so you can’t use this highly analytical study to determine if people are doping, but it does seem that the undefined ones seem to all be dopers.

    Maybe I should write the UCI and help them establish the “Gun Check Anti-Doping Program”.

  2. Andy was as good as AC at the tour last year, but he lost it. Right after AC got caught someone wrote a column explaining that if Contador returned, he would outclimb everyone, everywhere. He pulled a line between Armstrong bashing Contador in 2009, after which Contador took a stage to show who´s boss, and what would happen with all these doping allegations.

    In short: no one is going to beat Contador anytime soon.

  3. al:
    “Contador is riding like its the first climb of the day – its amazing how does he do it? He doesn’t even look the same as the other guys climbing …”
    I have a suspicion that I know how it works and its spoiling the race for me :(

    Word. I lost interest in the race when Contador took the maglia rosa and will pick it up again if he loses it.But he’s gotta crash to do that, pretty much, or hit the wall in a way that is very unlikely with team cars and team mates feeding him.

  4. @Minion
    Don’t let the presence of a rider that you don’t like spoil your the Giro.
    Even if we (almost) lost interest about the future winner,
    it’s still full of brave riders, today the stage was full of fantastic moments.

    (I know this photo destroy my words, but I can’t resist)

  5. I think he’s thinking:

    “Okay, she’ll either agree to be my VMH after this stage…or she’ll beat me with her umbrella for asking.”

    Damn, that photo is awesomeness.

  6. Pedale.Forchetta – Right on! That was an awesome stage, so much to get excited about & not worth it to drag it down with negative energy.

    I watched the final 50 k’s and that was awesome racing!

  7. I hope somebody sits Andy down with Nibali’s performance today. Maybe he’d learn something…

  8. @Steampunk
    Yup, something about grinta, although he got some of that last year on Stage 3. He still needs to learn to TT and descend.

  9. Wouldn’t be getting too hopeful about Schleck right now. He got schooled by eggtimer and Green Hornet forfucksake.

    Know they would have been peaking for ToC and maybe Andy isn’t too motivated tight now but still…

    As for judas Gadret, his standout performance reminds me a little of Bernard Kohl’s sudden improvement…

  10. Not wanting to do a “Ron” or anything, but I can’t help but notice my points don’t seem quite right…?

  11. @Pedale.Forchetta
    Thanks Pedale, I gotta say I’m learning more about the Tifosi in this edition of the race than anything else…would not wanted to be Contador in that last mountain stage, the reaction from the crowd lining the roads was intimidating and the spectators forcing the organisers to change routes? That’s a cycling nation bred on the race, its awesome! And Nibali, Scarponi and Igor are becoming heroes for leaving it all out there on the road, you’re right there are still great rides going on every day.

  12. @Oli

    Yeah the points seem funky. I’ve somehow lost points the last few days? Ah well, it’s not a big deal just weird.

  13. Also, does anyone know of a site where you can re-watch the stage after it happens? I opted to sleep in today and it looks like I missed a good race… has only has highlights and links to live streams.

  14. Oli:
    Not wanting to do a “Ron” or anything, but I can’t help but notice my points don’t seem quite right…?

    That should be a new lexicon entry along with paper boy which marko used.

  15. Ron: Displaying disproportionate excitement over something with little consequence.

    Thanks Ron!

  16. Ah ha ha…I now live south of the Mason-Dixon line and I’m a true yankee, from the state of New York. All my southern friends tell me I get way too worked up over small things, overthink the small things (bar tape color, make, perforation or smooth, etc.), and am generally way too excitable. They think it’s a northern thing.

    I guess it’s just my nature.

    Oli, that’s pretty awesome!

  17. Just watching a streamed version of 60 minutes.

    Already Tyler’s “Little White Lunchbag” call must be destined for the Lexi!

  18. @Ron

    Hehe thanks for being a good sport! I think having “the passion” is a good thing.

    @il ciclista medio

    I love that he is wearing lederhosen. Sweaty, gross looking lederhosen at that. WTF.

  19. Finally coordinated myself to ditch Porte and grab Menchov. I’m sure Gadret, Nieve and Rujano will be gone by the end. And I’m staying away from Bertie and Michelle on principle. But still, Forza Giro!

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Nibali
    2. Kreuziger
    3. Jo Rod
    4. Arroyo
    5. Menchov

  20. @Oli
    Can you be more specific as to what you’re seeing? And bear in mind that you’ve got penalty points for three of your picks from the first rest day.

    Unless you made no changes and there is a bug that gave you penalty points?

  21. @frank

    to add to Oli’s note on the points calculation, it seems be doubling the subtracted amount per rider. there isn’t a 2-point penalty per rider, but a 4-point (and i didn’t swap on the first rest day).

  22. @heath
    First umbrella girl, “I was choosed to play with the team and I am very happy about it”. Fantastico.

  23. @heath
    The message is wrong; 4 point penalty on the second rest day. Updating the message now…

    2 points per change on the first rest day, 4 points per change on the second.

  24. Last hope of redemption on the VSP standings. Still won’t pick he who shan’t be named. It’s not all about the apron is it?

    and frank’s leg definition logic. So far off the planet that it totally works for me.

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Rom Kreuz
    2. Scarface
    3. Niblets
    4. Munchoff
    5. J-Ro

  25. Right, couple of alterations based on the fact that the Bovine Botherer looks just about bulletproof going up hill…I reckon Nibbles still has enough to get back past Scarponi, plus I like him better.

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Cothodor
    2. Nibbles
    3. Scar Face
    4. Judas Gadret
    5. Dennis the Menace

  26. VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Contador
    2. Nibali
    3. Scarponi
    4. Le Mevel
    5. Sivtsov

  27. VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Contador
    2. Scarponi
    3. Nibali
    4. Gadre
    5. Nieve

  28. frank:
    Can you be more specific as to what you’re seeing? And bear in mind that you’ve got penalty points for three of your picks from the first rest day.
    Unless you made no changes and there is a bug that gave you penalty points?

    I guess I thought the penalty only applied once, and after that points would accrue dependent on placings. But don’t mind me, mathematics were never my strong suit – you can’t be this pretty and smart!

  29. Anyway, this is my final week right here.

    @Ron, cheers for being a good sport! I’m just being cheeky, no offence meant.

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Contador
    2. Nibali
    3. Scarponi
    4. Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver
    5. Kreuziger

  30. Wow. Tondo was killed by his garage door as he headed out for a training ride?! That is crazy. What a weird accident.

    RIP, Xavier.

  31. @Ron
    What an upstanding guy. He loved every aspect of riding a bike. Riding mountain bikes. Watching cross races and wanting to give track racing a try just cause it was on a bike. For sure hewas one of my favorite riders.

  32. VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Contador
    2. Nibali
    3. Scarponi
    4. Gadret
    5. Menchov

  33. I think it will pay not to make further changes with a 4pt penalty. I’m stuck with this lot I’m afraid. Just as well cause it would hurt me to have to put Gadret in there.

  34. That’s awful about Tondo! The whole thing sounds absurd. So sad.

    No rest day subs. A-yo-yos let me down again…Conty needs to hook him up with a new butcher, clearly.

    Big Denny ‘da Mensch’ Mench is going to come good. Not sure between Nibbles and Al-Scarponi.

    Can see Conty winning the TT, Lake Annecy style.

  35. Yeah, gonna dance with the one what brung me. The presumed 8-point penalty for switching the placings of two already-chosen riders won’t pay.
    Plus, Alex, Oli, and tonymacaroni (that rhymes nice) think Nibali will regain second spot and that cannot be ignored.

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