Giro Killer

Photo: Graham Watson, from Velo News

If you ask me, Danilo "The Killer" Di Luca has been the star of the Giro d’Italia. He's in good form, hungry and is racing smart.

He's held the maglia rosa (pink jersey of the overall race leader - like the yellow jersey of the Tour de France) for 5 stages after winning it by coming in 2nd to Menchov in the short but tough climbing Stage 5. Being the leader adds stress, but Di Luca seems to be handling it well. He's used his team wisely and hasn't wasted energy fending off false attacks or chasing non-threats. But he's not boring - he's got fire.

Yesterday's Stage 10 was a classic. I watched the evening coverage on Universal Sports (digital broadcast TV channel 5.2 in my area, also available on some cable and satellite TV). It was a long 262 km (163 mile) course over 3 categorized climbs. Six and a half grueling hours on the bike.

Stefano Garzelli went off on a solo break before the first major climb (dreams of Fausto Coppi glory?) and stayed in the lead until caught by Giovanni Visconti and Andriy Grivko of ISD after they managed a long bridge up to him with 20 km to go. It looked like the 3 breakaway riders would make it stick, but the peloton ramped up to an amazing speed and closed the gap before breaking into several packs up the last climb. Di Luca was in the lead group of very capable riders like Menchov, Sastre and Arroyo when he put the hammer down with 3 km to go and rode hard to the finish to take the stage win (see photo above).

Watching Di Luca take that stage was exciting and impressive. He timed his move right and rode strong. He didn't need to take the stage to remain the race leader, but the win and time bonus increased his lead and makes a strong statement. And it was just plain gutsy and cool.

I'm glad Universal is covering the Giro, but as usual it's a mixed bag. The commercial are lame and in big blocks (thankfully I have a DVR to deal with this). The announcers are green and frequently babble on about silly things, but I give them some slack because they're obviously trying to reach out to the non-cycling-fans. And they focus on Lance too much, but they're just appealing to national pride and the only cyclist name many Americans know. The camera work is very good with lots of helicopter and motorcycle shots that give a good feel for the race. The views of the Italian countryside are stunning - makes me want to go there.

Along that line, the Giro appears to be a good race to spectate - way fewer fans than the Tour de France, awesome scenery, and good racing. The announcers noted that the Giro is much less controlled than the Tour de France with fans being able to mix with the racers much more freely. The Devil (or very good look-a-like) made an appearance. Put simply, the Giro is a great race.

So thanks, Killer, for making this 100th anniversary Giro already one to remember.


Ski Bike Junkie said...

You probably know this, but the video comes from an Italian broadcaster, and then the Americans just comment in the booth on what they are seeing, as does everyone else in the world in their own language. Same story for every other bike race--one video feed for everyone. Can you imagine if everybody was trying to run their own cameras? Velonews put up a cool article about how it all works here:

I agree with you that the race has been great. Lance is a non-issue, so I wish they'd just shut up about him. But like you said, he's the only thing most Americans know about the sport, so what are you gonna do?

KanyonKris said...

Yes, I know that all the video comes from one crew and all the broadcasters use it. I thought about making that distinction in the post, but decided it wasn't worth muddying the water since those who care probably already know. But I'm glad you mentioned it for those who do care and didn't know. I'm going to read that article because I dig the details of how things work.

I love those shots from the helicopter of the Italian vineyards, little towns, larger cities, churches, castles, lakes, mountains, etc. Italy looks awesome - if I had the $ I'd go there.

And the motorcycle shots of the racers give a good sense of what it's like, AND provides those cool glimpses of spectators, shops, cobbled streets, and smooth pavement, tight corners, tree shaded streets, etc. Not only does watching teh Giro make me want to go to Italy, I REALLY want to ride a bike there.

Derek said...

The riders are definitely accessible. Janessa and I attended the team time trial and I was able to get Leipheimer's autograph and hang out right by many of the teams. Ted King and the Cervelo team were all around me trying to catch a ferry back to the mainland.

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Nice summary! Now I gotta go watch some!

bikemike said...

boy kris, i was sure hoping di luca would pull it out in the tt today, i don't think he left anything out there but menchov is a freaking animal and deserved the win. i still hope di luca can pull it off but at least he's set it up to be great competion till the end.

the giro has always be a much prettier race to watch than the tour and versus should hang their heads in shame for not putting it on.

good stuff, thanks.

KanyonKris said...

Derek - so cool.

bikemike - TT just isn't Di Luca's strength, but I was pulling for him anyway. Gotta hand it to Menchov, he's a good rider and maybe smarter to hang with Di Luca all this time and save himself and his team. But I'm not counting Di Luca out.

Tim D said...

During the tour of california there were apparently two feeds, but they only made one available to Eurosport, so we just got long shots from the front or back of the group and some fairly poor helicopter shots.

During the opening Giro TT, why did we get no decent shots of Venice? The only helicopter shots were of cruise ships in the harbour.

KB said...

We don't get Universal in my area so we subscribe via Dish to RAI - an Italian channel. We get live coverage, and, after watching it five years in a row with the commentators speaking Italian, we're starting to understand them.

It's been a great race. One heck of TT, and lots of climbing still to come.