Friday 23 October 2020

Photo of the day - 23: Giro d'Italia breakaway to Abbiategrasso

Trezzano sul Naviglio, near Abbiategrasso 

As it's Flashback Friday I am casting my mind back to a bike ride I did along the Naviglio Grande from Milan to Abbiategrasso while on a visit to Milan two years ago. That in itself was a nostalgia ride as it reminded me of the two years I spent there between 2012 and 2013. Riding along the Naviglio Grande was a mainstay ride for me in those days, as it was my local run. I was staying close to Corsa Genova, so it was very easy to get onto the fashionable Navigli, ride past the trendy canal-side caf├ęs and continue along the canal path (Naviglio Grande) to Abbiategrasso. This picture is actually taken at Trezzano sul Naviglio, just before Abbiategrasso. It's only about a 45 minute ride from the grand Milan metropolis, but it is pretty quiet, and has a very laid back feel close to the fields of the Milan suburbs. Interestingly, this is the place where today's stage of the Giro d'Italia began. It wasn't planned that way. The professional riders should have started in Morbegno, in the Alps and then headed into Asti (of fizzy wine fame) in Piedmont. But in typical Giro d'Italia tradition, there was a rider protest. The riders had spent yesterday racing in the freezing conditions up the Stelvio Pass, so some decided they weren't prepared to do today's 258km-stage. Instead, the teams were bussed over 130km across Lombardy to a big car park not far from where this photo was taken, and the riders raced the remaining 124.5km from there. Rider protests in the Giro d'Italia are not uncommon. They usually complain about the long transfers between stages, being made to race in difficult climatic conditions, racing over a wet slippery 25% slope like Plan di Corones, or even on the 100th anniversary edition where they were to race around Central Milan, weaving around parked cars on narrow streets! So this protest didn't surprise me - though the director, Mauro Vegni has vowed to take action against the ring leaders. I think rider protests are an Italian bike race thing. I remember in a cyclosportive  we were meant to do a cyclosportive across the Dolomites but it was bucketing down, with snow at the summits. Although the event was reduced to a race up Passo Fedaia, riders still complained that conditions would be unsafe.  On another occasion, at the Giro di Sardegna cyclosportive there was a big deal made about us doing a time trial that involved a long downhill section. After a big open debate between riders and the organiser the stage was cancelled and we did a leisurely ride along the coast instead. It's just an Italian thing, I guess.

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