Viewing Experience Notes
With the foot being all bummered, I couldn't ride this morning so I turned on yesterday's Giro stage to give it a look-see. Two or three shots of espresso and two hours later, I had a warm fuzzy feeling. My kid was playing around, wife was hanging out with me watching the racing... life doesn't get much better than that.
If you're in the D.C. area and need some espresso beans for Giro watching, Cafe Pronto in Annapolis is a good source. The Cafe Vincente is a really good afficionado's bean, with dark chocolate notes and an incredibly persistent crema, along with, I swear, hints of melon. Espresso 49 is more like "Espresso, Standard, Italian Style, One Each." It's a basic European style espresso, a little more bitter than the Vincente, less crema and texture, more straightforward and broad shouldered. Both are good blends. I knocked back a bunch of the Espresso 49 this morning watching the Giro - 14 grams, tamped extra hard, maybe 1.5 ounces per shot (ristretto) to keep it nice and potent. A plain, honest, Italian-style short shot just seemed appropriate for Giro watching.
Universal's coverage is pretty good. You have the low quality Euro TV feed which is a bummer - the Hi Def TV really shows the sketchy feed's weaknesses. But the voiceover is really good, providing more useful information than you tend to get from Versus, at least from the neutered Sherwen & Liggett show. (Morning TdF Roll/Sherwen live broadcasts excepted - uncensored Bob and rambling Paul give excellent commentary that gets neutered for the evening broad audience viewers).
I'm pleased to see Giant, among other brands, supporting the coverage with ad buys. I'm a big fan of Giant - they make very good bikes, and they make them affordable to the average enthusiast at 1-2 pricepoints below other bikes of comparable value. Plus their manufacturing process is second to none; if you ride carbon, the odds are good that the initial frame layup or at least the tubes were made in Giant's factory. But guys, the production values of these ads is bad. Now you can do garage-band quality stuff and if you know what you are doing, you can make it work pretty well. But if you don't know what you're doing, it comes off as amateur camera footage shot by a guy with a cell phone cam, and pasted together in some rudimentary Windows Office software suite. It doesn't help your image among riders, who tend to be elitist, and tend to think of Giant as the Generic Beer of the cycling world - it's strictly image discrimination but there's no reason for it. Please, Giant guys, call my friend Peter Nicoll at Superluminal Media. He knows bikes, he knows bike culture, he knows how to help you make ads that won't make your fans cringe. He can help. Give him a call. Please. We your fans beg you.
The Italian TV crew managed a ground-level shot of the main pack heading into a tunnel toward the end of Wednesday's stage. The sound was awesome, like being in a beehive.
I notice that compact road bars are really common among the PROs. In two or three minutes of watching the coverage this morning, around 2/3ds of the PROs seemed to be using these "women's bars."
Most of the riders seemed to be on 40 - 60mm deep section rims for yesterday's mostly flat stage. Relatively heavy, but relatively easy rolling on the flats.
SRM + Garmin seems to be the weapon of choice for a lot of power metering pros. I suspect the rotating mass is less of a problem when it's centered on the bottom bracket, rather than in a heavier, larger circumference hub package. I also suspect the difference is marginal, but in a three week race, marginal differences add up.
Most of the bikes are nice but three stand out - Guerciotti, Willier, and Derosa. The black DeRosa King3 in the black version - NeroVerde - is particularly stunning. You look at this bike, and it's easy to understand how people get all loopy and romantic sounding when they talk about beautiful bikes. (This picture is huge, click to see the full bike; I thought you'd like it in hi-def, just to be able to better drool over it).
Garmin and Columbia worked together a lot yesterday, right up until the sprint got heated. Astana seemed to contribute too. You have to wonder if the two American teams, and the team with two or three Americans, aren't exploiting their close personal ties to put the hurt on some of the other teams. The royalty all seem pretty amicable too - I notice DiLuca and Leipheimer, Armstrong and Rogers all ride near each other and appear to chat quite a bit. I don't think that's for mutual aid purposes though, for the most part.
The broadcast team did err quite a bit, as they've done for the last 10 days, in not openly acknowledging Cavendish's position relative to all the other sprinters in the race. He is a fricking juggernaut, comparable to McEwen at his peak and maybe better. They talk about the other sprinters like it's a fair race. Thing is, it's not. The only way Cavendish loses is if he screws up. You don't beat him otherwise. While Farrar and Pettachi can keep upping the speed, Cav has this sixth gear that he slips into, allowing him a violent accelleration that they can't match. Both are more like Boonen or Hushovd than traditional super sprinters like McEwen - they seem to be classics guys with a strong sprint, rather than simple speed machines like Cav. The only way they win is to keep spinning up the speed, and not giving him a chance to uncork the sprint. Letting him get a traditional leadout for a launch pad, or letting him hold your wheel, is a total mistake.
Cav does have a great leadout too. Mark Renshaw utterly punked Tyler Farrar, who eased up after Renshaw shoved him yesterday, allowing Cav to slip on through and hit the jets. I did something similar in a 400 hurdles race once in high school. I bitterly regretted it. When somebody hits you, you hit back. You do not ease off. This is bunch sprinting as well; it ain't beanbag. When Tyler makes up his mind that he ain't going to take that shit any longer, he'll start winning races. Until then... well, he'll get a lot of podiums. His call.
The other cool thing I saw was number 193, Markus Fothen, who rides for Milram, catching big air as he came into one of the suburbs on the outskirts of Florence. He was riding along at the back of the pack, doing probably 28 MPH, and hit what appeared to be a traffic calming bump. You saw his back, then he shot up and you saw his ass, then he dropped and you saw his back again. The wife was shocked by this. I was impressed.