clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Giro Vs. Tour, Installment No. 1,275

Since there's not much to add to the key events of the day, let's follow Podium Cafe tradition and change the subject entirely. How does the Giro stack up against the Tour these days?

All season long I personally (FWIW) have staked my reputation on the Giro -- not the Tour-- being the grand tour of the year. Spanish Cycling and the Vuelta in particular are sorting out their future after the Heras scandal, and the Tour, for reasons unknown, chose to boil the entire GC down to about five stages where the heads of state can actually make time inroads. Meanwhile, the Giro came back with a monster parcours, one that would have been even more dramatic in its original incarnation with the final day's split stage, with riders creeping into Milan to collapse. Whoever won would surely be a man of steel.

As this Giro has unfolded, we can now stack it up against the Tour a bit more. On the plus side, the stages are as fast and competitive, and nearly as long, as those at the Tour. There may be other reasons, but I attribute this to the Pro Tour making the top 20 teams all toe the line. Exposure is way up as a result, and especially after last year's positively riveting duels, the most exciting grand tour since the centenary Tour, at a minimum. All of these circumstances are moving the Giro closer to the Tour in the overall "bigness" of the race.

But as we can now see, the Giro's ambitious route has exposed its one remaining flaw: the top-level competition still falls well short of the Tour. Basso has dominated a field of potential challengers, guys with solid Giro resumes, but if the Tour is the ultimate challenge... well, have Simoni, or Savoldelli, or Cunego, or Gutierrez ever done much in July? Would Basso stroll away from a field containing Valverde, Landis, Leipheimer, an in-form Ullrich, Vinokourov, Evans, Rasmussen, etc.? We'll see, but I guarantee you he'd have to dig a lot deeper against those guys than he did today.

For all my complaints about the Tour parcours (pretty much once a week since this site began), it's turning out that the Giro's course, lying on the opposite extreme, has its downside too: the race is over before we even hit the dirt roads at Plan de Corones. Tomorrow will still be great, but more and more I'm looking ahead to July.