I just wish the organisers of the Giro had told people - before the race was about the start - that unfortunately they weren't going to be able to broadcast it this year. I was really looking forward to watching it, and then... nothing...
I think the most crucial thing will be, what did their agreement with PMG entail and when was it signed? Did they have an agreement to produce live coverage and then due to cuts etc. PMG were unable to honour their side of the deal? If that's the case then the Giro is blameless and being held accountable for something out of their control, and I would understand their unwillingness or inability to find alternative coverage producers late in the day considering the constraints (cycling coverage live during the Tour de France and on short notice in a pandemic, with the requirements forced by the authorities affecting room for negotiation when they'd already had to scramble a bit for the stage hosts/route on the fly). On the other hand, if they'd got the coverage agreement with PMG set up once the pandemic had begun and so there was at least some knowledge that it would have to be taken into consideration, or that the constraints vis-à-vis going up against the Tour etc. meant PMG were unable to produce coverage compliant with the UCI's WWT rules and the Giro still went steaming ahead with it hoping to use Covid as an excuse to kick the can down the road a year, then the Giro has gambled and lost.
ASO then celebrating their inclusivity because La Flèche Wallonne Féminine is being broadcast, however, gives me the same vibe as Jonathan Vaughters complaining about UCI hurting the Hammer Series for sexist reasons because they were hoping to add women's events. The same Jonathan Vaughters who spent a year griping about the (world class) women's team he had the misfortune to inherit in the Cervélo merger, pilfered funds from it to sign Thomas Dekker and disbanded the team after less than a year. ASO have been one of the biggest impediments to progress in women's cycling in the last few years, with their coverage lagging behind not just the established race organisers like Flanders Classics, SweetSpot and GS Emilia, but also small hobbyist groups and privately-owned races too.
Marta Cavalli from Valcar to FDJ - has been mentioned in the Cille thread. Very useful signing for FDJ, Cavalli is good over a range of terrains, is young enough to have really good prospects of further development and simultaneously old enough to take a bit of pressure off FDJ's home talents like Muzic and Wiel. She's been between 11th and 20th in the Women's Tour, the Giro, the European Championships, the Ronde, Flèche and Trofeo Binda, so good signs all round.
Nikola Nosková (from Paule Ka) and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (from CCC) to SD Worx (Boels) - seems that the team are building a climbing core to maintain success with the inevitable gap in their results that will be felt with the intended retirements of van der Breggen and van den Broeck-Blaak. After all, it's hard to lose two World Champions in one go. However, Katie Hall has had little chance to race since lockdown and it seems she may be retiring or at least returning to North America (which would definitely be a shame as I feel she had nothing more to prove over there, but had stayed there for long enough that she had unfinished business in Europe), and Nosková has been rendered a bit lost in the shuffle at Equipe Paule Ka with the results they've been able to get from Mikayla Harvey and Niamh Fisher-Black since lockdown ended. Nosková may not be at their level right now and have slowed a bit in her development but she's still a very worthwhile climbing hand; Moolman-Pasio is a veteran presence and a world class climber when on form, and the two of them (plus Hall if she continues) and the also-recently-signed Demi Vollering means that the marchers in orange, even if the colours may change, the chances of them leaving the front of the péloton behind are slim to none. They've also taken on Anna Shackley from Team Breeze (I believe that's where Anna Henderson also came from so they look like the team of choice for developing British talent at the moment?) - not many results to speak of as guidance because she's apparently a real climbing specialist, which the British domestic calendar doesn't really cater for; however 25th place off of a pretty cold open in the World Championships at 19 is a good sign and clearly she has something as Boels don't hand out contracts for nothing.
As has been mentioned Ane Santesteban is moving to Mitchelton-Scott, giving them another strong climber as they seek to re-organise the team round Spratt and Kennedy as likely leaders with an Annemiek van Vleuten-shaped hole in their results sheet; Ane doesn't win much but she's consistently in and around the bottom half of the top 10 or just outside it in serious climbing races, so she'll be an invaluable helper.
Movistar have picked up Sara Martín from Sopela, a smaller Spanish team. Obviously their big money acquisition has been van Vleuten, and one anticipates they'll be looking to Katrine Aalerud and Eider Merino to back her up for the most part, and not have a massive budget to surround her with an all-star backup squad so someone like Martín might get some good chances to learn. She's 21 years old and almost all of her best results are in the Torneo Euskaldun, a series of Basque one-day races in spring in the domestic calendar, so she should be pretty good when the terrain gets pointy.
Very dangerous with Deignan and van Dijk both there for Trek. Vos is Vos, of course. Teams like Canyon and Mitchelton not too happy with that I would expect, they can't expect to outpunch Lizzie and Marianne with the likes of Barnes and Grace Brown; Barnes was really good in Flèche, but you wouldn't expect her to go with the likes of Deignan on Roche-aux-Faucons.
Poursuivantes breaking up big time on La Redoute. Vollering, Uttrup, Lippert, Niewiadoma, Moolman-Pasio up at the front of it, so you'd say that's most of the elites that didn't make the break group. Deignan going solo.
Apparently now over 2 minutes back to the favourites group, if that's correct then Deignan has won this. Which means I might have to skip the Giro stage later to avoid the risk of a Ronde 2016 meltdown.
Not enough though, I fear. Come on Grace, you can do it.
Although to be honest even if Grace catches Lizzie I don't see any way she wins. If she gets within 10" or so I can see Lizzie sitting up to give herself a quick break and outsprinting her, unless they're close enough to the finish that it just necessitates a La Course 2018 chasedown.
Women's cycling seems to be where the male's been 50 or so years ago.
Nothing belittling (from both sides), just that the field's far less diverse and specialized, and the overall team strength's not enough to lock it until the leaders take off.
Entertaining a lot.
Peter van den Veen points out having done the calculations that Liège-Bastogne-Liège provided 47 minutes of live coverage after going on air late. The mandatory minimum is of course 45 minutes, so the way the race was raced definitely helped them out in that respect seeing as most of that had a solo leader, so could have potentially been a good bit faster if Deignan had had riders to collaborate with.
It was a very short lasting relationship indeed. According to PCS they only had three riders on contract for next year, but only two of the remaining riders have official deals with other teams. It should be possible for at least a few of them to get contracts elsewhere, but it might not be as easy for the staff. The timing is definitely not perfect.