It rains and it is cold, three, four degrees, in the Marmolada and in the Pordoi, the giants of the Dolomites that should have made the 16th stage of the Giro the queen of the race. Weather forecasts warn, at most, of possible sleet above 2,000 meters. The Giro d’Italia cancels his ascent and descent Cut the stage, which goes from 212 kilometers to 162.
The meteorological conditions did not seem, however, nothing impossible for a race that counts, among the images that have made it great, unique, admired, top quality raw material for poetry, the snowfall of Bondone – ”and Charly Gaul coming out of the fog, / from the Bondone blizzard in ’56, / his teeth were chattering, his gaze fixed, / and under the blanket / he was a hero of fatigue at the goal ”, wrote the poet Maurizio Cucchi– or the snowfall from Gavia de Perico, Hampsten, Breukink in 88. The cyclists faced the snow and the cold with stripped jerseys, in short sleeves, and when they survived they felt something, special people, people who have looked at the impossible face to face and not they have turned back. They felt like heroes, and the fans applauded them, and as such they treated them, admired them, and journalists wrote that these athletes are made of another paste. And so the history of cycling was woven, a unique sport.
No more. The Giro looks at the weather forecast, gets scared because some teams complain and, before having to regret problems and controversies, decides to cancel the passage through Marmolada (2,057 meters) and Pordoi (2,239). “The health of the cyclists is our greatest concern,” proclaims Mauro Vegni, race director, who prefers to create a controllable controversy than risk the wrath of teams and runners, who have already managed to cancel, due to rain, more than half an inconsequential stage in the last Giro. And one would have to think that with this new paradigm, in which the epic is no longer but a literary matter, some of the stages that made Vincenzo Nibali a superman in the Giro del 13, with the snow in the Tres Cimas de Lavaredo, the same blizzard that made Eddy Merckx great on the same dolomitic peak in 1968. Or the stage of the Nevado Stelvio de Nairo Quintana in 2014. And even the great dolomitic stage of Mikel Nieve in 2011, cold, rain, 229 kilometers, seven and a half hours pedaling, Piancavallo, Marmolada, Giau, Refugio Val Gardeccia …
The 2021 squad does not go up in short sleeves. He is warm with warm black raincoats, clothes that do not soak, that warm, that do not weigh. The logical reason of the cyclists, of the leader Egan Bernal, worried about the wear and tear of his team, so many days defending the pink jersey, the calculating mind that rules everyone from time to time, will applaud the cut of the queen stage, turned into a little princess of 152 kilometers (60 less than planned) and a single giant, the Giau (2,233 meters, new Coppi summit); the crazy reason, however, the main reason that has made them be cyclists, will cry, because they have been deprived of the right to be great. Egan still remembers, with a certain bitterness, how when he won the Tour, the stage that crowned him, that of the Iseran, was mutilated, depriving him of the right to win in Tignes, a stage victory to perfectly celebrate his yellow jersey, and avoid the “What would have happened if it was not suspended …”
Final irony, in Nibali’s escape that marked the severed stage, there were two Spaniards, Gorka Izagirre and Antonio Pedrero, already protagonists of Giro stages with complicated weather conditions. The Basque climbed with Nairo, helping him, the Stelvio Nevado of 2014; The Catalan embittered an attack by Nibali in the freezer Mortirolo working for the pink jersey of his partner Carapaz in 2019.