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. @Ron

    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.

    You know where the term “Yankee” comes from? “Jan Kees” is a very common name in Dutch, and is pronounce like “Yawn Case”. There were so many Dutchmen up in New York after the English took it over, that there was a “Jan Kees” on every corner. That got slurred into “Yankees”. Yet another example of how the Dutch are behind everything good in the world.

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

    1. Alberto Contador
    2. Vincenzo Nibali
    3. Scarponi
    4. Joa-Clean Rodriquez
    5. Denis Menchov

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

    1. Cont Of The Highest Odor
    2. Niblets
    3. Eee-Gorrrr
    4. J-R
    5. Denchov

  4. Re: Tondo. Isn’t life shit. From anecdotal evidence it seems Tondo and Weylandt were two of the nicest guys in the peloton. Yet they go to the great bike ride in the sky while the CoTHO keeps on fucking over the sport. He might as well be pissing on their graves.

    Given the points penalty, I’m just going to hope Di Wanka abandons. At least if he manages to get 10 minutes back and into the top-5 then at least I’ll know he’ll finally get banned for life.

  5. Oli & mcsqueak – No worries! I’m the youngest child in my family & have always had a big mouth, so drew the attention and comments from my teammates and friends. I have a thick skin at this point. Never mind a bit of cheekiness:)

    Frank – I didn’t know that. Pretty cool. I didn’t know why I was called a Jan Kee.

    Hmm, now I must decide if I should stick with my original line-up or make some changes. What will Menchov do in the final week? And how about J-Rod…leave ’em or swap ’em. Hard decision.

  6. @frank
    Yes, another very sad day for the peloton and fans alike. Condolences to his family. Be nice to see Movistar take a stage in his honor.

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

    1. contador
    2. nibali
    3. scarponi
    4. anton
    5. menchov

  8. Looks like Anton is gone…so let’s put Mr. Scarponi in 3rd…is there a Lexicon for him? For me he is a new Di Luca…dopped, I mean, strong rider atacking with no strategy, has the will to win but something is missing

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. The Spanish Steak
    2. Nibali
    3. Scarponi
    4. Menchov
    5. Kreuziger

  9. @Roberto Marques
    he did say he was coming to the Giro for a stage win.

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Conti
    2. Nibali
    3. Menchov
    4. Anton
    5. JRod

  10. Gadret is smelling waaaaaaaay too much like Kohl for my liking…plus we already know he’s an asshole, so why would doping be a stretch? I hope Nibbles goes on the attack and wins, but I’m afraid he’ll go on the attack and lose. Scarponi is a senseless attacker, but I love the style. Also doping, no doubt. Show me some bike racing!

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Nibbles
    2. Rokkit
    3. Gadret
    4. Scarponi
    5. Anton

  11. @frank
    see comment 613 above. But don’t confuse being a bad bloke with a likelihood of doping. Remember how everyone thought Ty must be innocent because he was Too Nice To Dope?

    Maybe a Lexi Entry. The Tyler Syndrome: a condition suffered by armchair analysts who rely on the (largely imagined) personalities of cyclists as a key determinant of the likelihood of being a doper – or not.

  12. No changes for me either.

    Invisible Denis sure is living up to his nickname.

    Gadret looks legit to me but Rujano has definitely eaten Tyler’s lunch.

    Contador looks a cut above in terms of endurance but he so obviously lacks maturity as a sportsman and as a person. His poorly considered attacks and that gammy, bragging grin of his…he’s just not likeable. But I long ago learned not to expect too much from spoiled young men with sporting talent. Sure its nice when you get some humility and humanity but it’s not necessarily part of the package.

    The problem with Bertie in this Giro is there’s no-one around to put him to the sword! What good is an anti-hero without someone to fuck him up?

  13. whoops, i had the wrong euskaltel rider in there.

    doot doot doot-doo…

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

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

  14. @frank
    I believe the word you are looking for is “extraterrestrial.”

    @Pedale.Forchetta
    Let’s make it happen. That would be brilliant. As for the photo, not at all, that was pure gold.

    @RedRanger
    Nice find.

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Clenberto Clenbutador
    2. Sicilian Shark
    3. Michele Scar-face
    4. Russian Assasin
    5. Purito-J Rodriguez

  15. No changes but Rodriquez, Menchov and Visconti – please do something!

  16. Sorry, not really a Giro post, but I saw Landis’ “more in sorry than in anger” comments this morning, thought it was worth going back to that hot July day in the Alps in 2006, the one that led CyclingNews to pen the following gem:

    Raging Phonak freak turns groupe maillot jaune upside down: Without a shadow of a doubt, today will go down as one of the finest stages in modern Tour de France history. Today, a 28 year-old American by the name of Floyd Landis, written off by most after his collapse of yesterday, staged a comeback that defied logic. And in one fell swoop, he finds himself back in contention to win the 2006 Tour de France….”

    More here: http://autobus.cyclingnews.com/road/2006/tour06/?id=results/tour0617

  17. Time for some 2nd rest day changes.

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. El Steakelero
    2. Nibali
    3. Scarponi
    4. Gadret
    5. Menchov

  18. That accordian is amazing! Someone needs to nick it and play variations on the godfather theme for half the night outside Meat-Sweats bedroom….pack plenty of garlic and watch out for bats.

  19. Ugh, didn’t realize today was an ITT. Quite boring after the awesomeness of Sunday. Oh well.

  20. Just an FYI, these current GC standings are incorrect. Scarponi is still second and Nibali third. Here’s the results from Cyclingnews:

    General classification after stage 16
    Result
    1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 62:43:37
    2 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre – ISD 0:04:58
    3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:05:45
    4 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:07:35
    5 José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli 0:09:18
    6 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi

  21. @Netraam @mcsqueak,

    Sorry guys, last night I was wrestling with whether or not to take the 4 point penalty and move Nibali into second or third in my VSP picks..so I was pretty focused on what he and Scarponi were doing in today’s stage.

    @Mikeweb – Agreed about Rujano… Must be nice to weigh 110 pounds… I think my legs weigh more than that by themselves!

  22. Btw did you see the black band on Conti’s arm. maybe not such a jerk after all.

  23. @LA Dave

    Ah no worries mate, just giving you a hard time. I’d rather have the results be correct as well. I may have Alberto as my #1 pick, but I’m no cheater!

  24. After my downer post in Riders On a Storm, I thought I’d come over here and declare my undying love for the Giro. Today was everything I love about this race… a cool little Italian town, a nasty climb, screaming tifosi and riders turning themselves inside out for the victory. Plus a little vindication for Nibbles and Scarponi, even if fucking Clentador did make everyone else look like wee babies (again.) Gran Tappa!

    PS

    Delenda Est Alberto

  25. there are some really great photos from today’s stage here. check out the agony in their faces, with their bars and the road reflected in their sunglasses. the fisheye shots are awesome too.

  26. @LA Dave
    Thanks mate, corrected. I think when I posted them they were provisional; I was surprised Nibbles overtook him again.

    Sorry for the confusion!

  27. I am stuck at jury duty today but I did see that there was a huge break. It would have been nice to see a liquigas rider in there. And what is Le Mevel up to? Oh and what the fuck is up with them shortening the ITT?

  28. Awesome racing today! Been watching since 50 km to go and this is damn exciting. Going to be an incredible finish. Maybe Contador will blow up?

    (and I commented that I wasn’t so excited about an ITT yesterday. When I wrote that didn’t realize it was an uphill one, thought it was just flat. I love seeing ITTs on regular bikes, even with a few aero bars tossed in.)

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