Giro d'Italia 2012
Only the uncertainty over the name of the winner until the final time trial stage kept the interest up on the race, otherwise subdued and often boring.
Blame the fear of each other among the main rivals and teams, surely, but also a course designed with questionable criteria.
The usual start in a foreign country, technically meaningless, forced to anticipate the first rest day, and the riders to go through 12 consecutive stages without recovery. Flat stages or gently rolling, often too long, almost always lived with nervousness by the protagonists, consumed by the need to stay in the front positions of the group to avoid crashes.
Only the 14th and 15th stage we saw the first real climbs, not incredibly tough ones either, to Cervinia and Pian dei Resinelli, with the favorites moving only in the last few kilometers, without clearly delineating a "hierarchy" in the peloton.
A well designed stage 17 with arrival in Cortina, not too long and with three climbs in quick succession (without any flat separating them) finally proposed a first selection, although not definitive.
Tough and selective, as always, the climb to Pampeago, to be repeated twice succesively with the interlude of Lavazè, but all set in a 19th stage that was unnecessarily too long, draining the legs of the protagonists, watering down the courage to move before the usual last 2-3 km.
Finally, the "queen stage", yet again unnecessarily too long (almost 7 hours) with the piercing slopes of the the other side of Mortirolo and over 20km over the valley before the Stelvio climb
Proposing gradients higher than 20% on long climbs is a useless torture to the muscle fibers of the riders, engaged in a technical gesture that has little to do with road cycling. Climbing at 6-8 km/h forces to such low pedaling cadences that require very high peak forces from the muscles, especially from not so light athletes.
Basso and the Liquigas team controlled the race for three weeks, draining treasures of energy in view of the Dolomites epilogue, where it is Ivan himself to be found lacking, displaying performances well below those of the victorious Giro of 2010, when the presence of Nibali was determing as well though.
Scarponi also did not repeat the performance of the last two editions, always anchored to pedaling cadences that are too low in moments of high intensity.
Eventually three "outsiders" were playing for the final Pink: after climbing performances of 5.98 w/kg at Pian dei Resinelli (1660 m/h) by Rodriguez and 5.84 w/kg by Hesjedal in Pampeago (1752m/h), the group of the best riders climbed the Mortirolo at 1582 m/h (5.27 w/kg); on the Stelvio, Rodriguez was yet again the fastest (1490 m/h), with the cyclists affected by the headwind and the previous tough slopes of the Mortirolo.
But the Performance of the 2012 Giro is signed by Thomas De Gendt, who from the ramps of the Stelvio jumped straight on the third step of the final podium in Milan.
A young and physically solid rider, he raced with intelligence and courage, promising plenty of room for progress in the near future.
Despite a good performance in the Time Trial, a perhaps too fearful Joachin Rodriguez gave up the Pink Jersey to Rider Hesjedal, who deservedly won the 2012 Giro.