Alberto Contador insinuated over the weekend what we had always suspected: that he is in fact some kind of robotic and entirely inhuman being.
at the unveiling of the 2012 Giro d'Italia route on Sunday, the defending corsa
rosa champion admitted that "the course is good for me" before
opening up the possibility of an AC-verses-vital-body-organ tussle: "If I
went with my heart, then I'd certainly race it."
all this graphic imagery, Contador then confirmed that he would nevertheless not
be present at the start on 5 May.
stating whether or not the following was as a result of his absence, the
Spaniard then concluded: "The Giro will be more human."
course, given the Giro's track record, the reference to Human could well have
been a nod to the southern Ukraine town of the same name. Although now former
race dictator - sorry, director - Angelo Zomegnan has walked the plank, any
forays into Eastern Europe and Russia are presumably off limits.
clearly years ahead of the Vuelta a Espana when it comes to organisation and
PR, the Giro - so often perceived as the Tour de France's younger and less
promising younger brother - can hardly be blamed for the awkward situation of
having its new route described to the world by a rider who, through both choice
and - perhaps - the powers that be, will almost certainly take no part during
its three-week run next spring.
presence in last year's race was much-feted and certainly raised the profile of
the race. But we all knew Bertie was only there just in case he was barred from
the Tour. He won it - like he always wins Grand Tours for which he has amply
prepared - but following the debacle that was the Spaniard's Tour last July,
Contador won't be making the same mistake twice.
his chips will be on the Grande Boucle next year - provided CAS sniffs up the
"cow cocaine" line prepared by his legal team and Contador is finally
freed to ride unencumbered by the clouds that have been hovering since that
Basque beef burrito he wolfed down what now seems like an eternity ago.
digresses - enough of a chap who won't be on the Giro unless CAS reschedules
his hearing once again to, say, June.
the furore over last year's Giro - labelled a "freak show" by many
following a catalogue of near-impossible stages and, of course, the tragic
death of Wouter Weylandt - the 2012 route is being seen as a somewhat lighter,
more amenable affair.
there won't be any major climbs until the end of the second week, and then the
final week's crucial mountain-top finishes will be broken up with a nice flat
stage to give the GC men a bit of a breather.
team that will be happy is Sky, for whom new signing Mark Cavendish will no
doubt rack up multiple wins in what had been feted as a sprinter-friendly race.
Dave Brailsford will probably entrust the team leadership to Vuelta revelation
Chris Froome, who will get a chance to show whether or not he was simply a
paella-style flash in the pan.
the "easy" route has raised the possibility of Tour GC hopefuls
doubling up as gregarios di lusso - which is infinitely better than doubling up
as a Remi di Gregario, which would essentially add up to nothing but a long
stream of mass disappointment and unfulfilled potential (or is that a
the new organiser Michele Acquarone's effort to cut down on long and tiring
transfers, the race will start in that familiar Italian enclave of Denmark -
renowned for its pizza and hot, Mediterranean-style climate in May.
Danish stages should, however, prove quite a spectacle, taking in sand dunes,
fjords, windy coastal roads, some undulating terrain and a couple of towns
beginning with the letter 'H'.
the first four stages of the race all start and finish in the same town or city
- Herning (twice), Horsens and Verona - which is either a total coincidence, or
some kind of cost-cutting shortcut.
it may seem on paper a bit Giro-lite, but the race should be rather compelling.
Between the numerous Cavendish stage wins, there will be quite a few
classics-style stages - including a mouth-watering punchy stage 10 finish up to
the Umbrian hilltop town of Assisi - as well as the big-name mountain summit
stages. Oh, and a 8.7km prologue and a team time trial (always a novelty).
there's no Zoncolan, but the final week includes back-to-back visits to the
Passo Giau and fearsome Alpe di Pampeago, before a penultimate stage of the
race that includes both the Mortirolo and legendary Stelvio climbs.
again, instead of a processional ride to bring things to an end, the Giro will
conclude with a 31.5-km ITT in Milan, which should ensure that the drama
continues through to the 11th hour (especially if Denis Menchov is
while organisers didn't say which national anthem they would play for the
winner, bookies are already taking bets on the Star-Spangled Banner.
see, last year they played the Danish national anthem for Contador one year
ahead of the race starting in Denmark - and haven't there been rumours of the
2013 race starting in another familiar Italian city... Washington.