The Ecuadorian government, today, bought the broadcasting rights to the final stage of the Giro d’Italia from whichever profit hungry satellite TV company owns them in that country, and beamed pictures live, and free, to its citizens.
The occasion, of course, was the near certainty that Richard Carapaz – the baby-faced iron-willed Ecuadorian pro-cyclist – would win the Giro.Embed from Getty Images
Which he did.
His lap of Verona and it’s environs sealing the three-week deal by a minute or so from Vincenzo Nibali.
The country has a new sporting star, and presumably a slightly furrowed brow and a collective confused look on it’s face as it gets to grips with the nuances of a Grand Tour. They’re perfectly intelligent people, of course, but to the un-initiated bike racing is a bit odd. Several million new fans have a whole world to delve into if they so choose.
A world of futile breaks and riders ‘looking around.’ Of sticky bottles and murky alliances. A world where riders compete for jerseys and trophies are mere afterthoughts.
As they watched a parade of skinny blokes ride quickly, alone, today, they may have wished Carapaz was a world beating footballer or tennis player. Something more mainstream. Less niche.
Because, as we know, a TT is not everyone’s idea of a good watch. And while stage winner Chad Haga and podium snatcher Primoz Roglic may disagree, not much of any note actually happened out on the road.
Carapaz was formally crowned.
Nibali sealed second place.
Roglic took third overall while the top ten was Yates, Lopez, Mollema, Zakharin, Sivakov…the expected cast.Embed from Getty Images
If the Ecuadorian people choose to embrace this sport they will watch their hero win more exciting bike races than this. For the past three weeks he has exercised more control over this bike race than US President Donald Trump generally has over the conclusion of his own sentences.
The TV analysts suggest he (Carapaz…not Trump) delivered a mere four true accelerations during the twenty-one stages. He was so efficient, and his team exercised so much control, that four were all that were needed.
He got full value for his effort.
Compare that to, for example, Miguel Angel Lopez, who delivered four accelerations per mountain stage and finished seventh overall; seven minutes behind our new Ecuadorian friend.
I don’t say that to criticise Lopez, but to praise Carapaz.
And today, in the standard Giro post-race parade of pink, Carapaz took to the podium with his two young kids; a smart move…the perfect people on whom to palm off the cuddly toys, trinkets, and flowers dished out the winner of any prestigious and sponsor-heavy bike race.
Meanwhile the population of his country presumably went bananas.
Or whatever the Ecuadorian equivalent is.
(Top Image: Fabio [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D)
A fascinating end to a great bike race. Everyone was so on the limit in those mountain stages that significant breaks were impossible. Sky’s dominating approach – long may it continue in its current form – was absent. Greater excitement could only have been generated by tighter time gaps. Nibali rode strongly but Carapaz and Movistar showed determination. Lands really deserved that third place, but then so did Roglic.
That’s the first 3 weeks of this year’s 9 Grand Tour entertainment over. Criterium Dauphine next week…..
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If ever a race deserved a 4-person podium, this was it. Felt for Landa, rode well and domestique-d just as well. But then Roglic was equally deserving after his largely-one man assault on the podium…
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I’ve always felt pretty neutral about Landa but he lit things up…a great effort!
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