Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Viva Italia

Like so many other cycling fans, I was thrilled to find out that Universal Sports struck a last minute deal to cover the Giro d’Italia. I don’t have a huge television or anything, but there are three or four shows I watch faithfully. They’re all taking a back seat to Giro coverage for the next three weeks.

Last night we got home kind of late. Which meant limited time to eat dinner, get the kids ready for bed, and watch the Giro. So we had a first for our family—we ate dinner at the coffee table in the basement. In front of the TV. The kids put their pajamas on from the same location.

I would say that Rachel was doing me a huge favor, but she was every bit as into it as I was. How could she not be? Yet another breakaway from Jens Voigt. After he got caught in the final three kilometers, Juan Mauricio Soler took a flier, sprinting solo up the hill. It looked like it was going to stick, but the chase group slowly clawed its way back before Danilo Di Luca sprinted for the win.

And it’s only stage four.

The Giro is way better than Le Tour. So far we’ve had a team time trial, two flat stages featuring closing circuits and bunch sprints twisting through ridiculously narrow and winding village streets, and now we’re already in the mountains. Not just any mountains, but the Dolomites. Plus Parmigiano Reggiano—the real stuff—buys advertising space on the roadside barricades. How cool is that?

Years ago, I saw a T-shirt at a street market in Florence that went like this:

Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian, and it’s all organized by the Swiss.

Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it’s all organized by the Italians.

Which indirectly explains why the Giro is better than the Tour. The Tour follows a recipe. And the recipe is refined but predictable. The Giro, on the other hand, is innovative, improvisational (they just changed the route a few days ago), and perhaps a bit impulsive. Like a good lover.

We’ve still got another 17 glorious days of racing. I suspect that should be enough time for Sam and me to successfully lobby The Church of the Big Ring to canonize Brother Jens as the Patron Saint of Entertainingly Bad Tactics. I will pray to him before every race if we’re successful.


  1. I love the shirt. While in Switzerland, a train was never even a second late. In Italy, we were waiting for a daily train that was scheduled to arrive. We were used to them arriving 5-10 minutes late, but after 15 minutes we asked an attendant where the train was. He responded, "oh, that train isn't coming today." Nice.