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Posts tagged ‘Giro d’Italia’

dino buzzati’s giro d’italia

A deep cut for my cycling friends, this essay reviews Italian playwright Dino Buzzati’s account of the 1949 Giro d’Italia. It originally appeared as a front of the book piece in Paved Magazine, and it fit the offbeat vibe of the place. If you can by chance find a copy of Buzzati’s book, I highly recommend it. A lengthy review essay like this one is so thoroughly a print artefact, it feels out of place here on the internet. But why the hell not? Words, we can put them anywhere we want, really. Also, history is fun. Let’s make more of it.

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In 1949, Corriere della Sera sent Dino Buzzati to write about the Giro d’Italia. His daily reports are collected and translated in The Giro D’Italia: Coppi versus Bartali at the 1919 Tour of Italy. A novelist and playwright, Buzzati had never before followed the race. The editors plainly gave him a free hand, because Buzzati did not cover cycling in any normal sense of the word. Read Buzzati’s dispatches in vain for talk of time gaps and race leaders. The stage winner is rarely the lede: This is no straight-up story about a bike race.

Instead, Buzzati’s daily reports read as a series of dreamy, stream of consciousness essays. He is the master of overwriting with a style so wrong, it’s eventually beautifully right. And through the surface chaos, a consistent set of themes become clear over the course of his twenty dispatches from the Giro. Buzzati meditates on what it means to be Italian at that particular moment in history. He dreams in classical mythology and finds ghosts among the ruins. A bike race runs through it all.

Buzzati’s cycling vacation came at the height of one of the sport’s great rivalries. In 1949 Fausto Coppi had twice won the Giro d’Italia while Gino Bartali had three victories in Italy’s grand tour. Legend has portrayed the two riders as stark opposites, a perspective reinforced by the dramatic race reports of the time. Like a photographer peering through a pinhole, cycling’s writers of the 1940s could see only pieces of the whole, so they filled in the gaps with their own inventions.

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Favorites

I’m adding a Favorites category here at the Sandbox. Periodically, I will add writing here that’s been posted elsewhere. A few old stories will also join the Favorites category. These are just stories that I liked. Maybe because I really wanted to write them, or because they just turned out better than I imagined. When I read them back later, they made me happy that I’d written them. It’s all rather self-indulgent, but it’s my sandbox and I’ll play how I want to.

The first of the favorites is this story from Podium Cafe about the career of Gilberto Simoni.

Gilberto Simoni has started thirteen editions of the Giro d’Italia. He was won twice, retired twice, and has finished second or third on six occasions. He counts among his successes stage wins on top of cycling’s most difficult summits, including the Zoncolan – he won that one twice – and Spain’s Angliru.

Despite his successful Giro career, the Tour de France never treated him especially well. His only stage victory came in 2003 in Loudienville after a long escape. All the same, the climber, who shares a home town with Francesco Moser in Trento, remains one of the few active riders to have celebrated stage victories in all three of cycling’s grand tours.

Now at last, Simoni is riding his last Giro d’Italia, a finale that comes after fourteen years as a professional. He has spent the first few stages tail-gunning it, staying out of trouble and waiting for the mountains. For the past two years tell the tale quite plainly, Simoni no longer has the legs for the general classification.

The Giro has visited the steep slopes of the Zoncolon on two previous occasions. Simoni has won both times. Can he win again this year? It may be a big ask. If not the Zoncolon, a long escape over the Gavia or the Mortirolo would provide a fitting end to his career, dominated as it was by successes in the high mountains. In his day, Simoni climbed with the best. Read the rest…

Giro d’Italia Stage Previews

I bet you thought I’d forgotten all about you. Abandoned my faithful blog people, never to return. Fear not! I have simply been off writing more stuff about cycling. More is better.

I have stage previews posted for the first 16 stages of the Giro d’Italia. Head over to steephill.tv and give them a read. I’ll also be stopping in daily there with updates and commentary after the stages.

If I have any words to spare, I’ll write them here. Yay for Giro!

Liquigas Doimo Giro Team

Liquigas has taken on a new co-sponsor beginning at this year’s Giro. Doimo is one of the leading furniture manufacturers in Italy. So far, the sponsorship agreement covers the Giro d’Italia, but it may extend into a more permanent relationship.

Liquigas also today announced the riders for the Giro Centenario. Ivan Basso fresh off his win at the Giro del Trentino will lead the team. Franco Pellizotti, who finished fourth in last year’s Giro d’Italia, is listed as a co-captain, though it seems likely he will ride in support of Basso when it comes right down to it. Kjell Carlström, Manuel Quinziato, Gorazd Stangelj, and Alessandro Vanotti will drive the team on the flats, while Valerio Agnoli, Vladimir Miholjevic, and Sylwester Szmyd support Basso and Pellizotti in the mountains.

Sadly, Liquigas sprinter Daniele Bennati has not recovered from the injury he suffered at Tirreno-Adriatico and will miss this year’s Giro. He hopes to recover in time for the Tour de France. Given the ambitions of the team’s stage race captains Basso and Pellizotti, Bennati would not likely have had much team support in the sprints, anyway.

In somewhat related news, Damiano Cunego called Ivan Basso the favorite to win this Giro in an interview this morning on Sky.it. Cunego said that Basso had a “good head and motor,” and is a true rider for the stage races. Cunego believes Basso has a “better chance than Armstrong” to wear Pink in Roma. For his own part, Cunego is hoping to make the podium this time around. In the years since his win in 2004, Cunego has consistently finished in the top five. To beat Basso is a big ask, but a podium finish is well within reach for Cunego.

Back lates with some chat about Liège. Yes, that’s very out of order of me. I s’pose you can sue if you like, but I’d rather you didn’t.

Giro del Trentino: Climbing to the Snow

Today’s stage finished on the Alpe di Pampeago, scene of Marco Pantani’s famous win in the 1999 Giro. Random factoid: Gilberto Simoni finished second that day. Today, it snowed at the summit.

Ivan Basso gave notice that he is ready for the high mountains of the upcoming Giro. The Varesino set a torrid pace on the steep slopes of the Pampeago, whose average gradient of 8.7% is not for the faint of heart. Only Giampaolo Caruso of Ceramica Flaminia and Przemyslaw Niemec of Miche Silver Cross could hold Basso’s wheel. With 1500 meters to go, Niemec jumped free. The 29 year old Polish rider, who missed the 2007 season recovering from an accident, celebrated a solo victory at the summit. Niemac called the victory a dream come true, “Every year I have ridden strong, but I have never won.”

Basso finished 22 seconds behind Niemac and moved up to second in the general classification behind Janez Brajkovic of Astana, who took over the lead from his team-mate, Andreas Klöden. Klödie won the opening crono, but found the steep slopes of the Pampeago considerably less to his liking. “I am very happy,” said Basso after the stage. Contento, if not tranquilo. “I rode hard the whole climb, then Niemec jumped away like a spring,” he explained. All the same, he called the stage “an ideal test.” Basso looks well-prepared for the start in Venezia in two weeks time. Though his opening crono did not inspire confidence, after his hard work today, Basso trails Brajkovic by just 4 seconds. Niemac is currently third, 22 seconds down.

For some of the other Giro favorites, it proved a less optimal day. Gilberto Simoni has suffered from the flu over the past few days, and was disappointed with his fourth place finish on the Pampeago. Today’s stage passed over Simoni’s local roads and no doubt he’d like to have collected one more win on the Pampeago. Simoni finished 45 seconds down on Niemac and 23 on Basso. “This was the first test and I hoped to ride well,” Simoni said after the stage. “I did not go well, as is clear,” he concluded. Danilo Diluca of LPR Brakes finished still further behind at 1.50, but the former Giro winner believes that his form is “building.” “I am not on top form,” he admitted, but today’s stage was only the “first hard finish.” Diluca remains optimistic about his chances, when the Giro d’Italia starts in two weeks time.

Tomorrow’s stage of the Giro del Trentino is a hilly affair that crosses the border into Austria. Full results and stage information at steephill.tv.

Post-race quotes from Gazzetta dello Sport.