May 12, 2007

By Graham Jones and Barry Boyce
CyclingRevealed Historians



Giro d'Italia Champions Living and Dead







CyclingRevealed's Giro '07 Perspective

Giro d'Italia 2007: Introduction

Mixed Emotions

Prophets of Doom

Coming into 2007 racing fans had been inundated with news on the arguments between cycling's ruling elite, race organizers and those organizations fighting drugs and other forms of illegal sports performance enhancing methods. In parallel with this endless battle Floyd Landis has been doggedly fighting on to protect his reputation and his 2006 Tour de France win. It seemed whichever way one turned the prophets of doom and gloom were reading cycling's “last rites”.

It took no time at all for the world of cycling to look as healthy as ever once the 2007 season got under way. Perhaps helped by the mildest early spring weather on record in Europe , the racing was lively, aggressive and attended by huge roadside crowds everywhere. Without condoning illegal sports performance enhancing practices, it is clear that we live in an age when such issues pale into insignificance when compared to the wars, diseases and urban violence plaguing our societies. For the general public the sight of a colorful peloton racing along open roads is a pleasant and exciting prospect which is magnified when they can spot their heroes like Boonen, Bettini, Di Luca, Valverde and so on.

Roberto Heras was stripped of his Vuelta win in 2005 after testing positive for drugs. In 2006 Ivan Basso won the Giro but since then has lived under the cloud known as Operacion Puerto . The 2006 Tour, the first for seven years without Lance Armstrong, was incredibly exciting and wide open. Perhaps the best Tour in decades. We rejoiced at the win by Floyd Landis and then days after the race finished he was found to have failed a drug test (suspected testosterone manipulation). Happily we all survived the 2006 Vuelta without scandal and today continue to celebrate Alexandre Vinokourov's win.

On the eve of the 2007 Giro we learn that last year's winner, Ivan Basso will no longer defend his title. He “voluntarily” resigned from the Discovery Channel team as the Operacion Puerto evidence mounts against him. In addition the Operacion Puerto investigators have just announced that they have yet more extensive evidence that could condemn not only many more racing cyclists but also many competitors in other sports as well. The simplistic solution to proving one's innocence in this case against the 200 or so bags of blood seized in Spain would be to agree to participate in a DNA test. One can only assume that this is the test that Basso (and many others) fear. However if a rider knows that they are ‘clean' then a DNA test would be nothing to fear.

An Italian Spring

Traditionally the early northern European spring road season is dominated by the hard men of Flanders . This year the Belgians in particular took a real hammering from their Italian colleagues. Early in March the quintessential Belgian race, the Omloop Het Volk, opens up the serious racing and Belgian riders consider it their property. Filippo Pozzato of Liquigas had other ideas and opened up the Italian invasion with a terrific win. But if one race truly defines Belgium it is the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). It is without doubt the biggest and most important race of the year for this cycling crazy nation and all bets were confidently on Tom Boonen. Again Italy triumphed when Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, simply outclassed the field. Belgian honor could still be maintained however with the two biggest races to close the spring campaign. But yet again it was not to be when Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner claimed the Fleche-Wallonne and then Danilo Di Luca closed the Italian spring campaign by taking a beautiful Liege-Bastogne-Liege win.

There is no doubt that at this time Italy is rich in elite cycling talent. Consequently it is hard to believe that an Italian will not win the 2007 Giro and make this the 11 th consecutive year that a home boy has won their own Grand Tour.

Mixed Emotions

So as our mixed emotions are subjected to a roller coaster of doubt, suspicion and media hype, time moves on and the Giro is ready to roll. A look at the course and knowledge of the incredible landscape that the race will pass through refreshes the spirits. Just look at the beauty of the first three days on the island of Sardinia . Spectacular is not overstating what lies in store. Sardinia, like all of Italy , is steeped in history but Mother Nature surpasses human history with this rugged island surrounded by the deep blue azure of the Tyrrhenian Sea . Stage 1 actually starts on a small island on the northern coast of Sardinia . No big city to start for this Grand Tour; instead of the usual short individual prologue individual time trial, the battle commences with a 24km team time trial between two tiny seaside communities.

Here at CyclingRevealed we will report on every single stage of the Giro providing not only daily race summaries but also presenting travelogue descriptions that will entice you to visit glorious Italy on your bike in the near future.

Drug scandals, political in-fighting and sensationalism may dominate the media today. But as the Giro gathers momentum we are guaranteed the incredible spectacle that only Grand Tours provide. Our dominant emotions will be those of joy and pleasure. For three glorious weeks there will be NO mixed emotions.

Tune in every day throughout the Giro for our daily summary:

CR's Daily Giro Perspective 07


Tomorrow : Stage 1 the 24 km Team Tme Trial from Caprera to La Maddalena. Come back here for our report.


Return to Giro 07 ToC >>>



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Giro d'Italia 07 (Click to enlarge)