June 8, 2010

Plan de Corones TT. Giro d’Italia 2010.

The 2010 Giro was the toughest, yet most exciting Grand Tour I have ridden, and I think from a spectator’s perspective probably one of the most thrilling in recent years. The race was a spectacle from start to finish. In the last two decades professional cycling has become formulaic and the Giro’s organization set out to create a race that cracked the formula. In recent years teams have figured out how to control the variables by eliminating the unknowns. the unknowns are what make cycling interesting, dramatic and thrilling, for both the cyclists and the audience. The courses have become predictable and the racing mundane.

Yearly, the Giro organization works to break that mold to form a spectacle.  This year, they mapped a course, which was both challenging and entertaining. Daily, I knew I was racing a stage that I would one day recall fondly.  Somehow, it seemed we were returning to cycling’s roots where unpredictably makes the race and provides the challenge. The unknown elements are what make a bike ride memorable.

The mountain time trial up to Plan de Corones is a ride I will forever remember. The ascent was tough but the last kilometre was the steepest bit of road I have ridden. We usually clip through the last kilometre in a minute, or less, but on the climb every pedal stroke was laboured and every meter counted. At the finish line, the views were spectacular. On the mountain peak at 2000 meters altitude we were surrounded by a wall of snow capped peaks and covered by a crystal blue sky. The descent off the peak in the cable car was equally memorable. Each of the riders sat in his own personal gondola, with his bike. The silence in the gondola was calming after the intensity of the crowds and the effort up the climb. For half an hour, I was able to reflect on the ride, the race, the Giro and absorb the beauty of the countryside.

I put together a helmet camera clip of the last 450 meters of the time trial. The camera, a Gopro HD, was mounted on the following motorcycle driver’s helmet.  The music is by Paolo Conte and the song is “Bartali”–an tune about the Italian cycling icon Gino Bartali.