This Saturday’s Stage 14 of the 2011 Giro d’Italia, which features a tricky descent of the Crostis ahead of a summit finish on the Zoncolan, is set to go ahead as planned after riders approved safety measures put in place by race organisers. In the wake of Wouter Weylandt’s death last week, there had been concerns that the descent was too dangerous for the peloton to tackle, but safety netting and crash mattresses have now been installed at specific points on the road.
The Gazzetta dello Sport reports that senior riders Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali, David Millar, Stefano Garzelli and Dario Cioni met with Giro d’Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan and its technical director, Mauro Vegni, and were shown a video outlining some of the safety measures that have been put in place on the way down from Monte Crostis, included in the race for the first ever time this year.
Confirmation that the riders had agreed to the changes made to the descent came yesterday from Gianni Bugno, president of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA), who told the Gazzetta: “The parcours is safe. I’ve seen the photos, the others have seen the video. Everything has been secured and protected with nets and mattresses, but I do wonder if they could miss out the descent and save a bit of money.”
Some of the new safety measures are shown in the video below – the link was posted to Twitter by Italian journalist Alberto Celani and it’s not clear whether this is the same as the one the riders saw – and it has to be said that even in a car the descent is white-knuckle stuff on what appears to be a pretty poor road surface, despite the Gazzetta reporting that some sections have been resurfaced in recent weeks and others cleaned once the winter’s snow cleared.
Bearing in mind that the riders will be travelling at speeds well in excess of those the car is moving at, and that those competing for the stage win or the general classification will be looking to squeeze every possible second out of the descent, and some pretty hair-raising riding is in prospect.
Moreover, the climb to the summit of the Crostis will have sapped energy and riders will be cold and tired – the very conditions that are likely to lead to errors of judgment being made and reaction times to be slowed. We imagine those in the autobus will be taking things much more gently – it could be a day in which the time limit is dispensed with.
Besides the nets and mattresses, which have also been put in place on the false flat section after the summit of the Crostis before the descent proper begins, there will also be five mountain rescue teams and a helicopter on standby, with one man positioned every 200 metres, plus 1,500 volunteer marshals.
Enzo Cainero, president of the stage organising committee, said, “I would never have allowed myself to run risks in the descent of the Crostis.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.