With ten kilometres to go a chasing group of five were riding hard, through-and-off like clockwork. Working together, sharing the effort, it was a lesson in smooth solidarity between riders with a shared goal: to catch Czech rider Josef Cerny. The lone leader, thirty seconds clear through the gloom on the road to Asti.
Our finish town being a prestige place in Italian wine. Whether you fancy a sparkling white (Asti Spumanti) or a premium Red (Barbera) you could do worse than head here. Cerny, a man on a mission, in search of a tipple.
And talking of solidarity the entire peloton chose today, Stage 19, to band together, brother-in-arms, in a show of defiance. After the mammoth mountains of recent days today was to be the longest Stage of the race (258 kilometres), a pan-flat schlepp through wind and rain.
“Enough,” said the riders, as one.Embed from Getty Images
A start-line protest, a rider rebellion, a team bus transfer knocking more than a hundred kilometres off the route, and threats from Giro boss Mauro Vegni of lawyers and repercussions. “Someone will pay,” he said, menacingly, presumably while shaking a comic-book fist in the direction of Adam Hansen, rider representative on the Cyclist’s Union (the CPA).
The result: the longest stage became the shortest. “We will race one-hundred-and-twenty-four kilometres…no more” said the peloton, in solidarity.
And they did.
Lunga vita alla rivoluzione!
And surely, for Cerny, this band of five brothers would make the catch. We have a rudimentary understanding of human physiology and the laws of physics. Five riders sharing the load are quicker than one. No matter how determined.
The gap is dropping, but slowly…so slowly. The chase appears concerted and co-ordinated but to tiny effect. Could it be – perish the thought – that some of those five are effecting the appearance of full-gas while delivering, what, four-fifths gas? Three quarters gas?
Five kilomtres to go and the gap is twenty seconds.
Three kilometres to go and it’s seventeen.
Let’s name the five: Simon Clarke, Sander Armee, Victor Campanaerts, Jacopo Mosca, Iljo Keisse. Somebody, somewhere, is saving their legs. Assuming the catch and planning the sprint. Undermining the cohesion of the group.
Otherwise five beat one?! Right?Embed from Getty Images
With a kilometres to go Cerny is clear, through town, a twenty second gap back to the chase, hand over mouth for a “oh-my-God-I’ve-won” finish line salute. A hail-Mary burst from Campanaerts is too little, too late.
Cerny wins. Solidarity wins. The peloton, ten minutes down the road, enjoying a nice day off, also wins.