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Massive cracks in road surface and snowbanks on Stelvio prompt Giro d’Italia organisers to scrap iconic climb; Celebrate Bike to Work Week… by getting wiped out by a truck driver turning across a cycle lane; Labrador vs Giro break + more on the live blog

The Giro’s back after a much-needed rest day – and so is Ryan Mallon, here to keep you well-placed and intellectually stimulated as we approach another summit finish on the Tuesday live blog

SUMMARY

14 May 2024, 08:07
Cracks on Stelvio (SudTirol)
“Nothing that a bit of gaffer tape and a snowblower won’t fix”: Massive cracks in road surface and snowbanks on Stelvio spark safety fears as iconic climb’s Giro d’Italia inclusion in doubt

If Geraint Thomas thought the fast, pothole-laden run-in to Sunday’s sprint finish in Naples was dodgy, wait ‘til the Welshman gets a look at the latest images from the Stelvio Pass, which – until any decisions are made to the contrary – the Giro d’Italia peloton is set to tackle next Tuesday.

The legendary 20km hairpin-laced climb, one of the Giro’s most emblematic locations and the scene of some of its most iconic moments – from Fausto Coppi’s race-winning demolition of pink jersey Hugo Koblet in 1953 to Nairo Quintana’s sneaky (and ultimately decisive) attack on 2014’s apparently neutralised descent – is due to be raced on stage 16 of this year’s Corsa Rosa, albeit slightly neutered by its Francesco Moser-era placement in the first 50km of the stage, and with a long 90km in the valley to follow.

Stelvio hairpins

At 2,758m high, the Stelvio is of course infamous for its usually inclement May weather – with its high walls of snow near the Cima Coppi’s summit typically providing the Giro’s most striking images – which has led to the pass being pulled from the race at the last minute on three occasions, in 1984, 1988 (the famous Andy Hampsten on the Gavia year), and 2013.

And, judging by the rather snowy images captured this morning by the webcam at the summit, it looks increasingly unlikely that the Stelvio will be making an appearance at the 2024 Giro:

Stelvio summit webcam images (Pirovano)

On Friday, Olaf Reinstadler, head of the local avalanche commission, told Italian news agency ANSA that the high banks of snow – and the likelihood of falling rocks and avalanches while they’re being cleared – will make it almost impossible for the Giro bunch, and its accompanying caravan, to take on the climb.

“On the Stelvio, the danger of avalanches is too high for the Giro caravan to cross it,” Reinstadler said.

“The problem isn’t the road, but the fact that the slopes above it are still full of snow. With the rising temperatures in these days, there could be sudden breaks in the banks of snow.”

“After the snow has been cleared, the road must still be made safe against falling rocks and avalanches before being reopened,” local councillor Daniel Alfreider added, before noting that there won’t be enough time to make the road safe before stage 16 next Tuesday.

And even below the snowbound summit, sections of the road don’t look overly healthy either:

Cracks on Stelvio (Uli Fluhme, X)

Yikes.

We might have to turn the Giro into a mountain bike race at this rate.

“For Italian road quality standards, that’s not that bad actually – half the road seems okay,” noted Giacomo on Twitter, while the optimistic cycling journalist Andy McGrath wrote: “Nothing that a bit of gaffer tape and a snowblower won’t fix”.

“This is about the standard in the UK,” James added – so who knows, maybe Geraint Thomas will feel at home after all?

14 May 2024, 13:30
And… it’s official: Stelvio Pass removed from Giro d’Italia stage 16 due to “risk of avalanches”

In perhaps the least surprising news of the day, the Giro d’Italia organisers have announced that the iconic Stelvio Pass – the scene of heavy snowfall and horribly cracked sections of road in recent days – will not feature on next Tuesday’s stage 16 of the race.

“The recent snowfalls on the Stelvio Pass, followed by the rise of the temperatures, are increasing the risk of avalanches,” the organisers said.

Giro 2024 stage 16 route change

“The Giro d’Italia organisation, in order to safeguard the safety of the Carovana Rosa, has therefore decided to change the route of the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia, Livigno-Santa Cristina Val Gardena/St. Christina in Gröden (Monte Pana).”

The Stelvio will be replaced by the slightly (but ever so slightly) less high Umbrailpass, which stands at 2,498m and will also usurp the Stelvio as the race’s Cima Coppi, the Giro’s highest point this year.

The stage route, the length of which is now 206km, will feature a similarly long valley section after the Umbrailpass – itself a fearsome 16.7km at 7.1 per cent average – before the summit finish at Santa Cristina Val Gardena.

The right decision, of course, given the state of the road – but I was looking forward to Pogi and Geraint Thomas trying out some ollies on the Stelvio skateboard stage I suggested this morning… Ah well, maybe next year.

14 May 2024, 10:57
Celebrate Bike to Work Week… by getting wiped out by a truck driver turning across a cycle lane: Transit authority’s post encouraging people to commute by bike criticised for featuring “death trap” cycle lane design

Across the pond, in the good ol’ US of A, it’s National Bike Month, a “celebration of biking as transportation, as recreation, as essential to our well-being and everyday lives”, while across the country ‘Bike to Work’ days are taking place this week.

While these are intended, naturally, to encourage people to ditch the car and commute to work by bike, one social media post celebrating Bike to Work Week by Beach Cities Transit (which manages transportation for the coastal area of Los Angeles County) managed to cause quite a bit of controversy:

While at first glance, the image posted by Beach Cities Transit shows cyclists using a nice two-way protected cycle lane, in the typical Californian sunshine, eagle-eyed social media users noticed a truck driver in the background pulling across the bike lane – despite a green light indicating that cyclists had the right of way.

“Gotta give that truck a ticket!” wrote Iane under the transit authority’s post.

“Woman in red almost got right hooked by that pickup truck,” noted Adrian, while others described the infrastructure’s questionable design as a “death trap”.

“Cycle tracks, especially two-way cycle tracks, should have signal separation of traffic modes. This is an example of engineering malpractice and a disregard for the safety of bicycle riders,” said another user.

However, rather thankfully, local cyclist Dr Grace Peng noted that the photo used by Beach Cities Transit is an old one, and that “there are now both R and L turn red arrows whenever the bike light is green”.

Now somebody just needs to tell Beach Cities Transit to avoid using old photos of dodgy, dangerous infrastructure…

14 May 2024, 15:14
Anything you can do… Valentin Paret-Peintre follows in brother Aurélien’s wheel tracks to secure first ever professional win by dropping Romain Bardet on Giro d’Italia summit finish

The Paret-Peintres sure are big fans of the Giro, aren’t they?

After Aurélien climbed to victory on stage four of last year’s Corsa Rosa, today’s summit finish to Bocca della Selva saw the turn of younger brother Valentin, who secured his maiden pro victory with an assured, impressive ride on the final climb’s steady slopes.

The 23-year-old French featherweight climber infiltrated the large breakaway, alongside his brother and Decathlon-AG2R teammate Aurélien, that eventually clawed itself clear halfway through the 142km stage.

For a while it looked like Visma-Lease a Bike’s diesel engine Jan Tratnik was set to finish off a stunning 36km solo attack, but in the final 3km Paret-Peintre – who had ridden most of the final climb with his former teammate and French hero Romain Bardet – kicked hard, dispatching Bardet and effortlessly bridging across to the stuttering Slovenian up front.

Paret-Peintre then breezed past Tratnik, eventually finishing 29 seconds ahead of Bardet at the line for a victory that not only continues Decathlon-AG2R’s staggeringly successful season, but vaults the 23-year-old into the upper echelons of the sport’s climbing talent.

Behind, a concerted (and rather baffling) chase by Bahrain-Victorious – seemingly to limit the losses to Bardet, whose time in the break saw him move up seven places to seventh on GC – eventually culminated in a rather insipid attack by Antonio Tiberi.

In the small group sprint for the line, led home by a resurgent Ben O’Connor, Tiberi ultimately ceded a handful of seconds after all that work by his team, while Visma’s rocking and reeling Cian Uijtdebroeks fared even worse, shipping 13 seconds in the final few hundred metres.

Race leader Tadej Pogačar, meanwhile, looked decidedly unflustered, as the battle for the scraps behind him now appears to have taken precedence over any attempt to rip the pink jersey from the rampant Slovenian’s shoulders.

It could be a long two weeks…

14 May 2024, 14:52
Mallorca cycling
Anti-cycling bingo reaches Mallorca’s expat community

Mallorca may be a paradise for cyclists, but it seems that some of the pro-motoring, anti-cycling attitudes that currently plague ol’ Blighty have infiltrated the Balearic Island.

In a recent article in the Majorca Daily Bulletin, the island’s online newspaper for English-speaking residents, titled ‘Danger! Cyclists in the way’, journalist Andrew Ede welcomed the winding down of Mallorca’s peak cyclo-tourism season as the weather becomes a touch too uncomfortably hot for big climbing miles (unless you’re training for the Tour de France, of course).

“As far as some drivers on the Pollensa to Lluc road are concerned, the season’s end will be welcomed,” Ede wrote.

“This is not because of lines of cyclists that are impossible to pass but because of the number who congregate on both sides of the road at the Coll de Femenia; it is well known as a stopping point.

“The problem can often be that there are groups of cyclists on the road itself, which does pose something of a danger.

“Still, there should be less of a risk now – until the next season.”

¡Bingo!

14 May 2024, 14:27
Watch out Tadej, you’ve got a challenger in the ‘who can wear the most pink’ stakes

Well, I suppose someone has to challenge Pogačar’s pre-eminence in Italy in some way…

14 May 2024, 13:54
Who let the dogs out (in the middle of the road, during the Giro d’Italia)?

After scrapping for most of the first half of today’s stage, a large breakaway – including more than capable climbers such as Romain Bardet, Julian Alaphilippe, and Juan Pedro López – has finally established itself at the front… But only after navigating this hairy moment involving a confused dog who wandered out into the road just as the break was descending through town at speed:

Fortunately, and quite miraculously, this latest canine incursion at a pro bike race resulted in no crashes. The dog, meanwhile, also appeared to survive relatively unscathed, save for an accidental boot to the face by Lidl-Trek’s López.

I’m sure the owner is thrilled with themselves…

14 May 2024, 12:57
Pirelli introduces “fastest and most performing” flagship road racing tyre
14 May 2024, 12:28
Sustrans and Wheels for Wellbeing launch Wheels4MeLondon, a city-wide accessible cycle loan scheme hoping to improve active travel options for disabled people

With Sustrans’ latest Walking and Cycling Index finding that 27 per cent of disabled people do not cycle but would like to, the active travel charity has launched Wheels4MeLondon, a city-wide accessible cycle loan and training scheme.

Designed in collaboration with Wheels for Wellbeing and Peddle My Wheels, and funded by the Motability Foundation with the aim of creating fully inclusive cycle hire, the Wheels4MeLondon scheme will offer free month-long, accessible cycle loans for people across London.

Upright trikes and semi-recumbent trikes are included, with Sustrans hoping to expand its fleet to feature other models in the future.

Wheels for Wellbeing handcycle and trike

The project also includes free delivery, a training session, insurance against theft or damage, and collection when finished. The cycle training sessions will also be tailored to meet each individual’s specific needs.

To ensure that participants receive the right cycle for them, charity Wheels for Wellbeing will provide consultation sessions to provide essential support and guidance.

Launching the scheme, Isabelle Clement MBE, Director of Wheels for Wellbeing, said: “The cost of non-standard cycles remains prohibitive for most disabled people whilst options to borrow or hire such cycles are extremely rare.

“Wheels for Wellbeing fights against all barriers to cycling. Therefore, we are thrilled to see this accessible cycle loan scheme get off the ground with the financial support of the Motability Foundation and through a unique partnership with Peddle My Wheels and Sustrans.

“Disabled Londoners and visitors to the capital will have access to impartial support and advice about what cycling options are available, as well as the offer of a month-long accessible cycle loan, giving them a realistic opportunity to try out making cycling a part of their lives.

“We will gather the experiences of Wheels4MeLondon participants in order to shape and influence the long-term development of inclusive cycle-share in London and beyond.”

14 May 2024, 11:56
Jonas Vingegaard, 2022 Tour de France stage 20 ITT (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)
Jonas Vingegaard won’t start Tour de France “if he’s not at 100%”, says Visma-Lease a Bike boss

As week two of the Giro begins with a prolonged, desperate fight for the break, we’re going to move away from the Corsa Rosa and turn our attentions briefly to the Tour de France, which is currently lingering nonchalantly in the back of Tadej Pogačar’s mind as he casually saunters around Italy clad in pink.

In an interview with Spanish magazine Relevo this week, Visma-Lease a Bike boss Richard Plugge said Jonas Vingegaard, the reigning two-time yellow jersey winner and the greatest barrier to Pogačar’s hopes of a Giro-Tour double, will only line up at the start of the Tour in Florence if he’s 100 per cent fit and capable of challenging for the overall victory.

2023 Tour de France Vingegaard Cervelo S5 Zac Williams-SWpix.com - 1.jpeg

(Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

Vingegaard is back on his bike in the wake of last month’s horror crash at the Tour of the Basque Country, which saw him suffer a broken collarbone, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, while enduring a prolonged stay in hospital.

“What’s clear is that we are contemplating two scenarios: one in which Jonas goes to the Tour and another in which he does not,” Plugge told Relevo when asked about the Dane’s hopes of defending his Tour title in July.

“It all depends on his recovery. In the end, we can’t go to the Tour to defend Jonas’ title if he’s not at 100 per cent. That’s something we’re not going to let happen.

“In all seriousness, the first concern I had, and we had as a team, was working out if Jonas would return to being a fully able-bodied person again. It sounds extreme, but that’s how it was.

“After a crash like the one he had, we have to be cautious and go day-by-day with his recovery. Right now, he has just got on the bike. We have to wait a few days to see where he’s really at on a physical level.”

2023 Wout Van Aert © Zac Williams-SWpix.com - 1

(Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

Meanwhile, question marks also still linger over Wout van Aert’s place in Visma’s Tour squad, with the Belgian – who was forced to skip the Giro after a heavy crash scuppered his classics campaign – likely to forgo the Tour in favour of focusing on the Paris Olympics.

“Wout has the advantage of a bit more time with his recovery, so physically we believe he can be there, but again, we have to wait,” Plugge added.

“We still haven’t sat down with him to talk about his calendar. We have to see if he sees himself in the Tour or not, and analyse all the possible scenarios before making a decision.”

14 May 2024, 11:39
Strava urges cyclists to “prioritise everyone’s safety” following pedestrian fatality on popular segment as app reminds users “hazardous” segments can be flagged

Strava has responded to calls for a popular segment in London’s Regent’s Park to be scrapped following the widely reported case of an elderly pedestrian who died from injuries sustained when she was hit by a cyclist as she crossed the park’s Outer Circle road, with the ride-sharing app reminding users and the public that “hazardous” segments can already be flagged.

The Royal Parks contacted Strava this week asking for the Outer Circle segment to be deleted, believing that this may deter cyclists from riding the route at high speeds.

In a statement provided to road.cc this morning, Strava urged cyclists to “prioritise everyone’s safety” and stated that “the behaviours related to this incident violate” the app’s community standards.

Regent's Park and Outer Circle Strava segment (Google Maps/Strava)

Read more: > Strava urges cyclists to “prioritise everyone’s safety” following pedestrian fatality on popular segment as app reminds users “hazardous” segments can be flagged

14 May 2024, 10:24
Tadej Pogačar here, starting week two of the Giro by straying perilously close to the ‘too much pink’ sartorial line

I never thought there’d be a clamouring for the return of those controversial purple shorts, but here we are:

I for one can’t wait for Pogi’s fully pink Colnago, pink shoes, and dyed pink tufty hair in Rome…

14 May 2024, 09:59
Giro organisers, take note

Perhaps Giro d’Italia organisers RCS could take their cue from Wiltshire Council and the baggy trousers and hoodie-wearing locals of Lyneham – where the B4069 has been left looking like it was hit by an earthquake for over two years – by turning stage 16 of this year’s race, and its ascent of the battered, snowbound Stelvio Pass, into a skateboard special stage…

If anyone from RCS is looking to chat details with me, I’ll be free for a call in the afternoon.

14 May 2024, 09:52
Giro d’Italia: School trip edition

‘Alright, Fernando and Dani, make sure you submit that 2,000-word essay on Pompeii’s socio-economic development before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius to me by the end of the day. I don’t care if you have to climb a Cat One summit finish in the afternoon, no more excuses, okay?’

14 May 2024, 09:39
More bike industry woes as Giant blames continued inventory troubles for falling sales and profits
14 May 2024, 09:03
Olav Kooij wins stage nine, 2024 Giro d’Italia (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)
Olav Kooij abandons Giro d’Italia with fever – two days after winning stage on grand tour debut, as Ethan Vernon also pulls out before stage 10

Just when Visma-Lease a Bike – who have been ravaged with illness and injury throughout 2024 – thought their luck was turning as Olav Kooij won a thrilling sprint in Naples on Sunday, the 22-year-old Dutchman has now been forced to abandon the Giro, his debut grand tour, ahead of stage 10 with a fever he developed during the rest day.

Kooij’s DNS, just two days after cementing his place near the top of the sprinting hierarchy, means Visma-Lease a Bike are left with only five riders as they aim to defend Cian Uijtdebroeks’ fifth place and lead in the white jersey classification, after Robert Gesink and Christophe Laporte were forced to abandon earlier in the race.

In another thinning of the sprinting field, Israel-Premier Tech’s British hopeful Ethan Vernon will not take to the start in Pompeii today, after battling illness and being on antibiotics for much of his debut grand tour.

“I’m really disappointed not to be starting stage 10. I tried to fight through the last days on antibiotics to get to the rest day, but I haven’t been able to get rid of the sickness,” Vernon said this morning.

“With the Olympics up ahead, the decision was made by the doctor to take some rest to fully recover for this big goal. I’ve really enjoyed the start of my first grand tour and I’m excited to come back in future years.”

Meanwhile, another sprinter, Astana’s Max Kanter, is another DNS today, having contracted an “acute respiratory viral infection with fever”, leaving just 159 riders to start the Giro’s second week.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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9 comments

Avatar
brooksby | 1 week ago
5 likes

https://road.cc/content/news/germany-trialling-traffic-free-route-28mph-...

The link takes you to the road.cc sister site.

Personally, if there are e-bikes haring past me at 28mph on a separated cycle path, I'm not sure that would feel any more relaxing than being on the road...

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 1 week ago
2 likes

I don't think this kind of "innovation" is a positive step for active travel.  However, that's the way of the world.  Who's going to buy "just apply all the basics we already know about e.g. safe cycle infra, motor traffic reduction, improved public transport"?

As usual - "follow the money".  Are the people calling for "more speed, more power"?   Or are "the people" doing the calling ... those with electric vehicles to sell?  They certainly are - and claim some public (cycle) space also.

Yes, you could be passed by the peoloton / someone in a velomobile at that kind of speed but (at least here in Edinburgh - where I know both exist) that's not happened to me.  But I've had some (illegal) electric motorbike encounters already.  (TBF I doubt they were "careful, considerate" types - though I couldn't see under the ski masks...)

If you want "a bit faster on two wheels" you can go out and get a moped, right now.

True that's not the same as a (slightly) cheaper and less regulated thing.  And many people wouldn't want to ride on the roads with the cars on any kind of two-wheeler.

But perhaps a minute or two faster for a relatively short journey (many journeys in the UK currently driven are short) isn't a good reason for nearly doubling speeds on cycle infra?

Avatar
Jakrayan | 1 week ago
1 like

To be fair to the 'journalist' Andrew Ede, he does have a point. He also didn't mention helmets (though they are a legal requirement in Spain), hi-viz, number plates, tax or insurance so hardly cycling bingo!

The road at the top of the Coll de Femenia is a blind summit and having large numbers of people stationary in the road there isn't a great idea, though obviously any drivers just need to be careful and ease through. I've cycled it many times, but wouldn't want to drive it as there are faster ways to reach Soller by car, even with a clear road, though there are nice places to visit up there before the weather turns hot, so I can see why some would.

Also, the last couple of times I've been cycling there, I've felt that it's kind of been ruined a bit, at least around Pollença and Alcudia by large groups who seemingly act with impunity, don't warn slower groups that they are coming up behind or just barge through on narrower roads expecting everyone else to get out of the way, ride erratically or too fast in narrow streets, and just basically act like complete kn0bs 

Avatar
panda replied to Jakrayan | 1 week ago
6 likes

We have a place in a small town in the middle of the island.  I just got back from a month there.

The cycling the wrong way down one-way streets isn't such a massive problem, because ... well ... everyone does it, although the trend for really loud freewheels is annoying - you can hear them when you're inside your house.

The congestion on the coast road from Formentor all the way down to Andratx and the climb up to Lluc is problematic but not many locals really have reason to use the road so it's a fringe issue and it only gets out of hand when the road has British tourists in hire cars up there and - surprise surprise - they drive like ****s.

What the locals do complain to me about (and it drives me nuts too) is when a group of cyclists turns up to a cafe in town and one of them leaves their Garmin* on and it beeps every minute for the duration of their stay whilst they sit there oblivious.  TURN THE ****ING THING OFF!

 

* other makes are available

Avatar
Flintshire Boy replied to Jakrayan | 1 week ago
0 likes

.

Almost like a large group of selfish, arrogant, entitled cyclists, yeah?

.

But .... there's no such thing.

.

Avatar
the little onion | 1 week ago
6 likes

"Anti-cycling bingo reaches Mallorca’s expat  immigrant community"

 

FTFY

Avatar
mitsky | 1 week ago
4 likes

Tell us that motorists are not paying their fair share based on the damage they cause... without telling us.
(But cyclists don't pay road tax!)

"The struggles over fixing London's broken bridges"
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/cxe88y5ypvlo

And I wonder if they will allow people to cross on foot, bike etc, like they've done with Hammersmith Bridge.

Avatar
Mr Hoopdriver replied to mitsky | 1 week ago
3 likes

"The road was closed in July 2023 as soon as the defects were discovered to prevent serious injury."

We need more broken bridges

Pontefract - one of my earliest memories is being told this was latin for broken bridge.

Avatar
ROOTminus1 | 1 week ago
0 likes
Olaf Reinstadler wrote:

The problem isn’t the road, but the fact that the slopes above it are still full of snow.

He can see the same pictures as us, right? I'm guessing it's a chicken-and-egg situation; can't fix the road till the avalanche risk is cleared, can't clear the avalanche risk quickly till the road's fixed

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