This is pretty o/t, but it's occurred to me that the Giro d'Italia is in a pretty bad position right now. Despite the Giro's penchant for glorious racing and the usual sumptuous feast of a course in recent years, I fear the Great Yellow Circle* is about to devour much of the sport next year, and leave the Giro with a vastly watered down field of Classics guys and B-list stage racers.
[* Le Tour]
Can you name a single serious grand tour rider who you'd expect to see lining up for the 2009 Giro? Yes: Ivan Basso. That might be about it. Recall, this year's battle pitted Alberto Contador against Riccardo Ricco. The former was a fluke inclusion, perhaps never to be repeated; the latter is busting rocks on a chain gang til 2010. The CSF boys are in disgrace. Gibo Simoni isn't walking through that door anytime soon. And other recent champions Danilo DiLuca and Damiano Cunego have proven themselves to be marginal grand tour threats (albeit one-day marvels).
Italian cycling doesn't have a ready crop of three-week riders on line right now. I'm not savvy enough on the prospects of the next generation, so maybe there's a new, new Pantani or what have you just around the corner. We do know about guys like Gabriele Bosisio and Vincenzo Nibali, showing some real promise, but they're a ways off still. Closer to the top is Franco Pellizotti -- in fact, he may be the answer to this riddle. But one Tour de Suisse win fourth in the Giro isn't quite hard evidence.
As for foreign riders, a few guys like Jurgen Vanden Brouck might come back for a chance at a win. It's still a good race for young grand tour hopefuls, like Thomas Dekker or Robert Gesink, who could use some seasoning on the three-week circuit. Or maybe Columbia will launch its good-not-great GC guys like Lovkvist or Mick Rogers at the Giro. But with Lance purportedly back in the mix, the Tour will be a humongous draw for every rider on the planet next year, and even if the competition might leave B-listers everyone gasping for air, the crush of world media will still force DSs to send all their best guys to France. A reinvigorated Tour will inevitably suck more air out of the Giro than the Vuelta, both because it comes afterwards (and makes the Giro a training risk) and because the Vuelta has so much homegrown stage-racing talent that the show will go on.
If you can think of major GC attractions who can be expected at the Giro next year, I'm all ears. Also, if Lance skips the Tour for the Giro, you can scotch this entire post. But I'll believe that when I see it.