There's much discussion today of transfers, the dark corollary to a really great, entertaining parcours. The riders apparently staged some sort of mild protest demonstrating their frustration with the inconvenience of post-stage transfers, a source of contention since the earliest days of the sport...
A Short History of Cycling, in Dramatic Form
Rouen, France, 1882...
Person A: "I'm faster than person B."
Person B: "The hell you say."
Person C: "Let's have you two race. For money. Go!"
All: "That was great!"
Person C: "Let's do it again, only starting from another town."
Persons A&B: "SCREW YOU!!!"
Anyway, back to the Giro. There are an extraordinary number of transfers in this race, a full 17, reflecting the organizers' somewhat perfectionist approach to designing stages. There's probably another factor at work too. [Let's see if you can gue$$...] Stage starts and finishes are a big deal for the towns, so whatever benefit there is from these designations is maximized by avoiding starting in the same (redundant) town you finished in last night. Solution? Transfers.
Seventeen transfers is a large number, so let's break them down, Wong-Baker Pain Scale Style! These are chronological, and skipping five mini-transfers of no consequence. Also, these are daylight ratings; if done in the dark, add three categories of pain.
Palermo-Cefalu: 41 miles, 0:53. A ride along the northern Sicilian coast. Tourists book buses to do this drive, willingly. Rating: no hurt
Agrigento-Catania: 102 miles, 2:03. The only drive on the list I can speak to from personal experience... there are decent national highways between major Sicilian cities, and these are two of the majorest. Very quiet and farmy; vaguely resembles, oh, eastern Oregon? Rating: hurts a little bit
Milazzo-Pizzo Calabro: 88 miles, 2:20. Another riviera route... but with a twist: water crossing! And we Seattleites all know what that means. Rating: hurts a little more
Catanzaro-Belvedere Marittime: 80 miles, 2:02. A shore route along the Calabrian coast. Drop me on that bus after a month in any major city, and I'm loving life. Make me do this after a race, and after the previous three particularly scenic transfers? [Yawn] Rating: hurts a little bit
Contursi Terme-Potenza: 47miles, 0:40. Hm, I'd expect something rolling and scenic, but that 55mph average, factoring in MapQuest's conservative estimates, means this is probably a dull, unwanted, mercifully short highway ride. Rating: hurts a little more
Peschici-Vasto: 85 miles, 1:53. Kind of long, and that average speed doesn't look promising. The reason? Entire route is along the Adriatic Coast, presumably a winding shore highway. In the Tour of California, they call routes like this the Signature Stage. Rating: no hurt
Tivoli-Civitavecchia: 79 miles, 1:21. Probably pretty dull. Also, riders might be heard to mutter "enough already with the frickin transfers." Rating: hurts a little more
San Vincenzo-Urbino: 256 miles, 4.00. You call this a rest day? A ride across the entire peninsula? Unless the driver knows a great restaurant about halfway across, this won't be even slightly fun. But for the rest day, this would be the subject of rioting. Rating: hurts worst
Citadella-Verona: 47 miles, 0:51. Flat, dull, fast. At least it comes after a four-day break from long transfers. Rating: hurts a little more
Alpe di Pampeago-Arabba: 46 miles, 1:23. Hm, slow speed, for sure. I'm guessing this will be a lovely little drive through the mountains., albeit on the heels of a hard day. Rating: hurts a little bit
Plan de Corones-Sondrio: 167 miles, 4.28. Just what you want after a max-effort hill climb time trial... four hours in the team bus. On the plus side, it's another transfer involving the presence of a rest day, and each rider will have only spent something less than an hour (?) in the saddle, as opposed to the usual six. It's also a meandering route through the Dolomites, not unlike how some people spend their holidays. Rating: hurts even more
Tirano-Cesano Maderno: 90 miles, 2:29. A ride out of the "Discover Lombardia" tour book. On the eve of the final ITT to Milan, riders will be either completely sick of Italy; way past caring anymore; relaxing for the first time in weeks; or (if in GC contention) gnawing on bottles the whole way. Rating: hurts a little bit