First lessons from the 2017 Giro D'Italia
By Dave Land, posted 12 May 2017
Was there a lesson for the rest of us as Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates crashed into a Police motorbike (beyond the obvious - don't crash into police motorbikes)? The lesson is probably not to ride at the back of a big bunch, or on the edge, when going round corners. But then, the front's not much better as its wracked with stress, and the back can be even worse as you are shut out of the race if there's a hold up in the bunch.
It doesn't give you an ideal sport at any point of the ride. And this, I guess, might be some kind of lesson. There isn't an ideal position, not one place to be aiming for, beyond all others, that gives you the maximum benefit of speed, support, slimmest chance of crashing, least stress, easiest to get through incidents. Riders tend to know this, and so they will have a preference for position, and make that bit their own. Ryder Hesjedal, for example, was almost always at the back, much like Dimension Data's Steve Cummings, until the point arrives when they decide it is time to animate the race in their own style.
More than all of this, is it simply a case of luck? That is certainly the mythology about bike racing; a set of what if's, maybe's and could have's. French cycling, in particular, has been going through these motions for some years now. With top class riders such as Bardet, Rolland and Pinot, they still have to rely on the mystical hand of fate not dealing them what they need, as a reason why, after 30 years, there has still not been a French winner of their own mighty race.
If it is all about luck, then Quintana must be the one bike rider avoiding black cats, walking round ladders, never being number 13, and always paying for small posies of flowers. If you want to talk about luck, and certainly luck in cycling, then you have to concede that luck works both ways. Whilst it might not be on the side of the French, or indeed of Geraint, it seems like it is always on the side of Quintana. The lesson from the first week then: it might seem that it is bad luck that dogs cycling, and when it is riders we support, then it seems unbearable to watch. However, to rely on the vagaries of luck as your safeguard is to never fully engage in your own abilities. Was it really bad luck? For all the times you can blame bad luck, what about all, the times you didn't notice your good luck? So, I ask again, was it really luck, or was it an inability or an unwillingness to take the consequences of our own actions, in a complex world. Me? After the excuses, I generally put it down to not enough riding. And there's a solution to that.
Credit: Dave Land, 2015