pro cycling

How to binge-watch the Giro d’Italia


It won’t surprise you to hear that, during the Giro d’Italia each year, I make a point of being somewhere near a TV every evening to watch the highlights of the day.

This year was no different. For eighteen of the twenty-one stages. And then real-life kicked in, with it’s responsibilities and it’s bank holiday family weekend, and I found myself left hanging.

On tenterhooks.

At the very point where three weeks of dramatic tension were reaching a crescendo I was well out of range of media communications, sitting around a camp fire in the west of Cumbria, swatting away midges and eating cheese.

Which is certainly a very enjoyable way to spend a weekend, but it did leave me no option but to binge-watch the best bits of three whole stages of Giro highlights on my return home.

And, as ways of dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s of a Grand Tour go, I’d thoroughly recommend it. Not for me the slow drip-drip of Tom Dumoulin’s eventual victory, but a tension and drama filled single evening epic.

So I watched as Quintana, robotic and expressionless, eked out vital seconds, assisted by Vincenzo Nibali in his role as pantomime villain.

Quintana talked of pushing hard in the mountains until Dumoulin blew up, and Nibali made vaguely sinister threats suggesting the upstart Dutchman should keep his mouth shut. Dumoulin himself focussed on avoiding any toilet related time-losses.

And then came the final day time-trial in Milan.

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I wanted Tom Dumoulin to win, by the way, because I like his style; I prefer big riders who time-trial and hang on through the mountains, rather than tiny pip-squeak climbers.

Partly because, were I approximately 100 times more talented, that’s the kind of rider I’d be.

I also find Quintana a little dull.

And Nibali has developed rather nicely over the years into a sullen, suspicious, guarded, sell-your-own-grandma-win-at-all-costs arch professional.

Valverde-lite, if you like.

He’s a great rider, and can set fire to a bike race with more purpose than most, but he’s a bit grumpy for my taste.

So…they lined up for the final day time-trial; the contenders were three weeks into a gruelling bike race, and I was three hours into a gruelling back-to-back of Eurosport commentary, punctuated by adverts selling generic products to generic Europeans.

The flat course meant the small lead held by Quintana was not enough. Any semi-fan could tell you this. But on the last day of a Grand Tour people are tired and things happen.

It was tense.

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Dumoulin rode a stormer.

Nibali was falling short.

Quintana was snaking around on his TT bike like a man with insects in his bib-shorts and 3,000 kilometres in his legs. The Columbian was tired, and trying to limit losses on terrain suited to everyone but him.

But binge watching a Grand Tour does funny things to your judgement.

Here’s Dumoulin, on the final corner, one of the finest bike riders on the planet, and I’m worried that he’s about to headlong into the barriers. I’ve just watched him go pedal to pedal with the cream of pro cycling for three weeks, and I judge it about 50/50 that he’s going to be able to successfully turn right as required.

Miraculously, he does, before crossing the line and sitting down to watch Quintana finish his TT.

The time and the distance tick along on screen, a simple calculation suggests Quintana would need to smash the land speed record to beat Dumoulin, and my TV addled brain continues to make it tense.

“Dumoulin might just do it,” I think.

(He’s easily going to do it.)

“Quintana looks tired, i’m not sure he can make up the time,” I say to myself.

(He hasn’t got a hope.)

“I can’t believe it…big Tom has won!”

(It’s been obvious for a few minutes now, idiot brain).

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Had Quintana won I would have been disappointed for about 10 minutes before shrugging and getting on with my life – it’s a bike race, after all – but still.

After three stages back to back, with a brain compromised by too much screen time and a weekend of heavy cheese consumption, that was a modern classic.


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7 comments on “How to binge-watch the Giro d’Italia

  1. Alastair McPhail

    I too struggled to fit the heft of the giro into my day everyday. Eurosport don’t help with there 2 hour+ highlights package. Surely the highlights should be just that and put into an hour. If you want more watch/record the live stage.
    I watched the final tt on my laptop in the kitchen while making a key lime pie and then the tea. Unfortunately my internet connection has a unique quirk where it turns it’s self off to all devices when using the laptop for browsing or streaming. As you can imagine this made for frustrating watch, especially the last 10 minutes…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Feels like i could have written this myself. I binge watched the highlights of the final five stages back to back, having avoided all news for the best part of the week!

    Really enjoyed the Giro this year, Tommy D winning was the icing on the cake.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You did well to avoid the news for so long. Yes, brilliant Giro this year – just the right mix of climbing, TT, and classic Giro d’Italia controversy.

      And a winner who seems like a great bloke too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely, really enjoyable. Shame about Thomas and Landa being taken out so early as that could have spiced things up further. That’s the big challenge with watching the highlights of the grand tours, essentially a news blackout for nine weeks of the year and avoiding club conversations too.


  3. A bit late now, but Quest channel showed a 1 hour highlights show of the Giro every evening. Same result as the extended highlight show though!


  4. Pingback: 50 shades of grey areas – ragtime cyclist

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