Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Giro, the Lunacy and Fair Play

This Giro has entered the realms of truly epic, combining images and stages of races past. I thought that this kind of racing had long died out in the 80's. Maybe this is why the old footage still rings a bell in most cycling fans heart. Although drugs where used back in the day the level of sophistication just wasn't present as it has been over the last 10-20 years.

As many will know I am no advocate for using PED's, and for me it's on many levels. Fair Play is one, I like to think that victories won on a level playing field would be exciting as those fueled by the latest lab wonder chemical. It's funny that the UCI use the 'Fair Play' argument when it comes to bikes and equipment to justify, in some cases, some bloody stupid rules rather than focusing on the greater problem within. The UCI needs to address the real issues and although the 'you should be able to buy this bike at a store rule' is as crazy as turning a blind eye to the special preparation required for grueling events like this years Giro. And don't get me started on the 6.8 kg rule, in this modern age it is absurd where bikes are being built (with all the same concerns for rider safety and durability) which land well below the 6.8 kg rule only then to have weights added to hit the ruling. This proves the machines meet the requirements except on that one level. Why must progress stop and science continue, where ultimately the rider is in more danger from PED's than the bicycle. As a weight/power ratio it is unfair than a 190cm rider is allowed to ride the same as someone in the 175cm region.

But back to the Giro and the Lunacy that has been for the armchair DS's a marvel to watch. The stages and the succession of them have been brutal. Yesterday, Stage 19, comes across as a march of the mad, a throw back to the original forays into the mountains, with many saying it couldn't (or shouldn't) be done. Today, Stage 20, again is another crazy stage which could change the overall lead again. I am sure that the TV audience figures must be on an all time high, for what is the most beautiful of Grand Tours. My question is because it is so hard, are we encouraging the thing that we are trying to remove from the sport.

As most TV coverage, and lets face it this is the future revenue growth for the sport, only focuses on the final 100-60 km it bodes the question should races be shorter? Does Flanders or a Grand Tour stage really ever need to be 260 km long. Could the change in a course dictate the outcome in a different way other than length. I think nobody would say that the Mountian Time Trail was any less tough by being short, but it was as close as ridiculous as a stage should every be for a PRO.

I am hoping that as the weeks spread into months that the course organisers don't get bit on the bum in the regards to positive tests from athletes. I would like to think that this may be a turning point and we can start to see Grand Tours won by clean athletes, but I feel that until we take a real view on what an athlete can do under those circumstances it still may be a little while off when the physical demands outstrip the human capabilities.

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