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Why can't the Italians win the TdF?

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Apr 1, 2009
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I think as others have noted that it's not just the Italians having a hard time but look back for the last 20 years and it has mostly been the spanish and Americans winning! You could ask the question where are all of the other great cycling nations? France has been mentioned but what about Holland? Belgium? Germany? ..... and you Brits!!!! I would argue that the Italians are doing ok with Pantani and Basso in the past. Ricardo Ricci was my hope last year but we all know what happened there don't we. It's not like GT riders grow on trees, not even in Italy, I'm afraid.

I am an Italian fan, I have to admit and I would love to see an Italian win the tour, we all know it is THE race. Or at least THE stage race. But for the Italian teams and their sponsors (and me) the Giro is the most important, yes other races are important and the Italians do well in the classics and worlds but the Giro is important and I would argue just as tough as the TF.

Who knows may be Basso will be ready for the tour next year and if not RR will be back in a few years as well. ( for better or for worst):cool:
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Probably a big factor is the Giro doesn't place as big of an emphasis on time trialling as the Tour. Thus the Italian riders who get encouraged to become stage racers don't have the TTing skill to win the Tour.
 
Apr 12, 2009
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St. Elia said:
You could ask the question where are all of the other great cycling nations? France has been mentioned but what about Holland? Belgium? Germany? ..... and you Brits!!!!
As a Belgian, I don't know about the English, and Germany has Klöden already.

But in Belgium, we finally start to see some climbers again. We have Jurgen Van Den Broeck (7th in Italy), Maxime Monfort (11th in Spain 2007, 5th País Vasco
), Stijn Devolder (4th in Suisse, 11th in Spain 2006), Kevin Seeldraeyers (7th place and white jersey in Paris-Nice)

Also Holland has a new generation of climbers, with Gesink, Dekker and Weening.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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BikeCentric said:
Anyway, back to Italians - Salvodelli, Simoni, Garzelli, Frigo, Basso, Pantani, DiLuca - these are all the big stage racers of the past 10 years that I can remember and basically all of them peaked for the Giro - and with the specific prep that riders do these days you just can't peak for the Giro and then the Tour in the same season. That's why they don't win the TDF, because they want to win the Giro!

You have forgotten the most promising riders of the last years, Cunego and Riccò other than Piepoli; instead I'd exclude Savoldelli from the list... he has won the Giro only in lucky or particular circumstances. However for that concerns Savoldelli, he won the giro in 2002, that year he didn't take part of the Tour; then in 2003 and 2004 he was out for injury, he returned in 2005 and he won the Giro because the stomachache of Basso in the Stelvio's stage and because Simoni has lost it in the last stage not having a strong team supporting for him; that year we know Savoldelli was a teammate of Lance so at the Tour he raced for Lance
 
Mar 19, 2009
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jaylew said:
Seriously? What has he done so far in his comeback to suggest that? I'm not saying he won't eventually be there(it could even be this year), but what has he done in the last 2 1/2 years to suggest he can climb or TT with Contador?

Sorry if I say this.., but you don't know Ivan Basso at all. Ivan Basso is the most professional rider in the world together with Rebellin; during these last two years of absence he has been training more than all the other riders and just he returned to the races at Japan cup in October 2009 he struggled at square with Cunego, the WC runner-up and giro di Lombardia's winner; here is a link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmNEvja7xss
In 2009 he has hidden away in order of his own choice, because as Lance during his golden years, he wants to arrive to his real seasonal objective without any pressure. Dispite of that he has made a big big show in the last Tirreno-Adriatico
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZgx4jUYQ48
and surely we'll see Basso in the front at LBL.
I think Basso is unbeatable either at the Giro and at the Vuelta this year, Contador is not as strong as Basso either at TT and in climbing; this is my opinion...
 
Apr 1, 2009
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I have to agree, what can you say about Basso? he has an objective wait and see how he does at the giro and then you can make comments about what form he is in.
 
Milan.ITALY said:
Sorry if I say this.., but you don't know Ivan Basso at all. Ivan Basso is the most professional rider in the world together with Rebellin; during these last two years of absence he has been training more than all the other riders and just he returned to the races at Japan cup in October 2009 he struggled at square with Cunego, the WC runner-up and giro di Lombardia's winner; here is a link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmNEvja7xss
In 2009 he has hidden away in order of his own choice, because as Lance during his golden years, he wants to arrive to his real seasonal objective without any pressure. Dispite of that he has made a big big show in the last Tirreno-Adriatico
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZgx4jUYQ48
and surely we'll see Basso in the front at LBL.
I think Basso is unbeatable either at the Giro and at the Vuelta this year, Contador is not as strong as Basso either at TT and in climbing; this is my opinion...

Thanks for the links, but I was already very aware of both of those performances. Neither suggest that he is "the best stage racer in the world in the world right now."

Honestly, I think there may be language barrier issue here.

Again, he might prove that he is the same rider he was before the doping sanction, but that remains to be seen. Honestly, it wouldn't shock me at all, but as of right now you can't objectively say that he's done anything that would back up the the previous statement.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Basso is very talented indeed... THis will be a fun Giro to watch & Lance can still do really well too. Nothing has "changed" really. >>>> I hope none of the Favorites have a shortage to their Glycerol freezers.
 
Apr 1, 2009
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Agreed, Basso for the next couple of years probably the biggest challenge Contador will have.
If Basso is anywhere as good as at the 2006 Giro (a big if), he will be a match for AC in both the mountain stages and the TT's.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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jaylew said:
Thanks for the links, but I was already very aware of both of those performances. Neither suggest that he is "the best stage racer in the world in the world right now."

Honestly, I think there may be language barrier issue here.

Again, he might prove that he is the same rider he was before the doping sanction, but that remains to be seen. Honestly, it wouldn't shock me at all, but as of right now you can't objectively say that he's done anything that would back up the the previous statement.

All right, the links effectively don't give the exact idea of the strenght of the new Ivan Basso, in the first one there is not the moment of the attack of Basso in the climb, in the second one there is not the climb of the Sasso Tetto. However as I have already told
the history of Ivan Basso tells that he never has impressioned in the stage-races before his main goal exactly such Lance Armstrong or Miguel Indurain have done too. Do you remember how many times Lance has suffered at "Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré" ?
Well, I say this: If Basso right now would be the same as in 2006 there'll be no game!! No one could stop him!! Neither Contador nor Armstrong nor any other else... is there someone not agree with that?!...
The matter is this; as I am Italian and I'm a cycling fan since 1993, I'm absolutely sure Basso is the same as before, I've understood it by small thinghs such as interviews he has done and so on.
 
Apr 12, 2009
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[quote
I think Basso is unbeatable either at the Giro and at the Vuelta this year, Contador is not as strong as Basso either at TT and in climbing; this is my opinion...[/QUOTE]

listen Basso is a good rider and he has a really good chance in the giro and maybe the vuelta if contador doesn't do it but to say that he is a better climber than contador are you mad he couldnt drop scarponi on the climb
 
The guy has definite talent and if he's anywhere near as good as he was in 2005 and 2006, he has a great shot at winning a GT this year, and I also think even if doesn't there's still a good shot he will win the 2010 Tour.

I realize he doped (regardless of his comments, which he later admitted were asinine) but keep this in mind: He probably wasn't doping that much when he did. He was riding under Damsgaard's anti-doping profiling at CSC, which would have made it quite difficult to completely jack himself up on, so what doping he did, was probably minimal. I will say this though, I truly believe the guy these days when he says he's riding clean.

Honestly, once he's racing fit, I think the guy's biggest thing is going to be confidence, and strategy. If he can ride smart, and believes in himself, he'll win again.
 
Alpe d'Huez said:
He probably wasn't doping that much when he did. He was riding under Damsgaard's anti-doping profiling at CSC, which would have made it quite difficult to completely jack himself up on, so what doping he did, was probably minimal. I will say this though, I truly believe the guy these days when he says he's riding clean.

If Basso was only doping a little when he won the Giro then he would be truly frightening with a more standard program. He should not be racing bikes; he should be given a cape and allowed to fight crime.
 
Basso was, in 2006, entering his prime. Basso 2009 should be at his peak.
He's a different machine to Contador. He may not have that injection of pure speed on the climbs, but he can turn the screw for longer.
I think people are over-estimating Contador's level and under-estimating Basso's.
If there is a question mark of whether Basso can be at 2006 levels or better,
there should be a question mark, in this new testing era, whether Contador can reproduce his 2007 Tour form.
He certainly hasn't climbed quite like it, since.
Certainly not, in 2008.
Dropped by the likes of Menchov and Simoni at the Giro.
Better at the Vuelta, but hardly dominant.

The ITT could be the key. Certainly no loss of form for Bertie, there, huh?;)
 
Apr 1, 2009
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This is of course is all speculation and I am an Italian cycling fan no doubt. I have to say though that people talk of Contador as if he is unbeatable but I don't see it that way. Remember how close levi was to him at the Vuelta? Levi is a pure ITT guy that can climb as well and look how close they were at the end. Yes Levi got dropped on one of the days in the mountains but only lost a little time. I look forward to a showdown between Contador and Basso. hopefully Basso will have a team that can support him.
 
Apr 12, 2009
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Mellow Velo said:
Basso was, in 2006, entering his prime. Basso 2009 should be at his peak.
He's a different machine to Contador. He may not have that injection of pure speed on the climbs, but he can turn the screw for longer.
I think people are over-estimating Contador's level and under-estimating Basso's.
If there is a question mark of whether Basso can be at 2006 levels or better,
there should be a question mark, in this new testing era, whether Contador can reproduce his 2007 Tour form.
He certainly hasn't climbed quite like it, since.
Certainly not, in 2008.
Dropped by the likes of Menchov and Simoni at the Giro.
Better at the Vuelta, but hardly dominant.

The ITT could be the key. Certainly no loss of form for Bertie, there, huh?;)

Let's wait to see Basso win a race this season I like Basso as a Rider and he seems like a cool person but I dont think he's won a race this season so let's not over estimate him either he has not proven that he's even close to his level in 2006, plus Contador won the Giro when two weeks before he was sitting on a beach in spain, he probably won't be like he was in 2007 but from what I saw in the tour last year he's probably going to win sadly
 
The most plausible explanation here is still that Italian cyclists remain too much devoted to the Giro, timing their form for May and then (if they feel like it) showing up for stage wins in July. Or they start their careers trying to win the Giro and the "transition" to a Tour-focus, often unsuccessfully. Basso is the only Italian stage racer in recent memory to focus primarily on the Tour from a young age, and then to expand his focus to include the Giro.

As for the Giro favoring a different kind of rider: that's a relative, not an absolute, difference. Basically the Giro is designed to suit the strengths of the current Italian superstars, which in the past decade has meant a hilly course. Back in the early 80s the race was tailored to suit Moser, with lots of time trials and less climbing. (This is what I've heard, but check it.wikipedia.org for verification.)

I think it's interesting that, in the post-Lemond climate of Tour-specialization, the Giro has become less competitive than so-called minor stage races like Paris-Nice and the Dauphine Libere. Those races now attract deeper fields because you CAN win them races and still focus on the Tour.

Finally, does anyone get the impression that the intense specialization of cycling has been reversing itself a bit in recent years? It seems like, with the exception of Contador, most of today's top riders compete in, and often have won, both major stage races and major classics: Evans, Valverde, the Schlecks, Cunego, Sammy Sanchez -- we see the same names topping the leaderboards at Paris-Nice, the Ardennes classics, the Tour, the Worlds, the Olympics, Lombardia . . . None of them have gone after Roubaix or Flanders, but in many ways this looks like the good old days.
 
BikeCentric said:
However, it could also be that the developmental aspect of cyling in France is in decline - that's a pure wild guess though as I've never been to France and admittedly have no clue. It'd be interesting if there is a French fan here with a take on that. There have been plenty of good one-day racers out of France over the years though so I'm going with my original "bad luck" thesis.

I feel like the problem with French cycling exists somewhere in their training culture. I have only anecdotal evidence to go on here -- statements by major French team managers like Legeay and Madiot, stories told by guys like Voigt and Wiggins who left French teams recently -- but it seems like French cycling is working with this really old-fashioned approach to the sport that just can't compete in the new world of power-meters etc. The French see cycling as a sport that's about honest, brave suffering; they love the idea of the rugged individual who can win on sheer guts and audacity, whereas they can't stand the kind of high-tech cyborg approach to the sport that Certain Individuals have perfected in recent years. I realize that these are huge generalizations but I think there's some truth in them.

Also, while I realize that Americans resent the French talk of "cycling at two speeds" for its perceived Gallic self-righteousness, I think French cycling is arguably cleaner than (say) Spanish and Italian cycling, and that this has something to do with their poor post-Festina record. I mean, were ANY French cyclists implicated in Operacion Puerto? How many French cyclists have gotten in trouble since they started testing for EPO? I know Jimmy Casper was briefly in trouble last year, but it turned out to be one of those asthma-med paperwork things.

What puzzles me is the disparity between France's success in the different branches of cycling. They can still produce great track sprinters and great mountain bikers, yet on the road, they've got nothing (Chavanel's recent fireworks in Roubaix and Flanders aside). Whatever the problem is with French road cycling, why doesn't it spill over on to the track or the dirt?
 
Apr 8, 2009
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jaylew said:
Which is sad because I've often found the racing at the Vuelta to be more exciting than both the Tour and the Giro.

Given a choice, I think I'd see the Giro first, the Vuelta second, the TdF last. I'm basing that order on:

1) An article I read once in a cycling magazine (CycleSport?) that said the Giro is like the TdF, only more exciting and less crowded.
2) I spent 3 months in Spain on a consulting project and would go back in a heartbeat.
3) TdF...because it's the TdF?
 
Apr 8, 2009
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Mellow Velo said:
Basso was, in 2006, entering his prime. Basso 2009 should be at his peak.

I realize this may be a bit of a rhetorical question, but can Basso be at his peak in 2009 after missing 2 years of racing? I realize he trained the entire time, but is the training he's done a good enough substitute for racing 1 or 2 grand tours per year? Might it take 1 year back at racing for Basso to reach his peak?
 
yetanothergreenworld said:
Finally, does anyone get the impression that the intense specialization of cycling has been reversing itself a bit in recent years? It seems like, with the exception of Contador, most of today's top riders compete in, and often have won, both major stage races and major classics: Evans, Valverde, the Schlecks, Cunego, Sammy Sanchez -- we see the same names topping the leaderboards at Paris-Nice, the Ardennes classics, the Tour, the Worlds, the Olympics, Lombardia . . . None of them have gone after Roubaix or Flanders, but in many ways this looks like the good old days.

I agree to to a certain extent. Especially among the Spaniards where in the past they would showup to the classics with plans of stepping off at the first feed zone, now they see that some of these races, especially the hilly Ardennes classics are right up their alley. First with Astarloa's win at Fleche Wallone and Freire's success at Milan-San Remo, interspersed with Mayo and Etxabarria's podium at LBL and finally Valverde's Fleche win and LBL victories they have overcome what was a stereotype of sorts, that the Spaniards were simply little climbers. The current generation has shown they're capable of excelling in these challenging events. Let me include Juan Antonio Flecha in this list with his yearly stellar performances at Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Flecha may just be the pioneer that opens the gate and influences other young Spaniards to give these "hard men" races a try.

To me its refreshing to see Cunego, Valverde, Sanchez competing hard in the Ardennes, San Sebastian and the Lombardia. They do it not because they may have not met their goals in the grand tours but because they love these races and see that they can be successful. I have a much greater appreciation for the riders that don't use every race as preparation for the Tour. They are throwbacks almost. I think a lot of today's riders have been brainwashed by the training strategy utilized by Armstrong in winning his 7 Tours and they feel that is the only avenue to success. Sacrifice an entire season by throwing the dice that it'll all result in a Tour victory.
 
yetanothergreenworld said:
How many French cyclists have gotten in trouble since they started testing for EPO? I know Jimmy Casper was briefly in trouble last year, but it turned out to be one of those asthma-med paperwork things.

What puzzles me is the disparity between France's success in the different branches of cycling. They can still produce great track sprinters and great mountain bikers, yet on the road, they've got nothing (Chavanel's recent fireworks in Roubaix and Flanders aside). Whatever the problem is with French road cycling, why doesn't it spill over on to the track or the dirt?

Have you forgotten the Cofidis scandal? I find it hard to accept that the French have decided that the old school approach to training will suffice while still utilizing the latest in technology when it comes to bikes, wheels etc...
From what I understand based on riders that used to ride for French teams and the quotes from Hinault and Fignon, the French riders for the most part concern themselves with getting in early breaks for the sake of maximizing television exposure, showing their suffering when the moto camera is pointed at them, all the while knowing that their "from the start gun" attack is doomed to failure. There are exceptions but they are going against a strong current. I think Richard Virenque is the poison that they're sipping from. His seeming "success" at the Tour with his KOM strategy of losing time so as to ensure his break attempts would not be chased down with vigor by the gc contender's teams, was a marketing bonanza for him and his team but it set young French riders on the road to mediocrity with the fame that he achieved. I don't know to what degree the French public and media forgave him for his Festina transgressions but I can't help but think that with him being the closest thing that the French have had to a star in the Tour that his riding style had a major impact on upcoming French professionals.
 
Part of the issue might be that alot of the lesser races in France that are below the pro standard or the lesser pro races that are in the frensh cup for example are rather flat. Races like Paris - Camembert, Route Adelie, Tour Mediteraneen, Tour de Normandie, Cholet-Pays De Loire etc etc don't really have lots of climbs.

It's not like there are loads and loads of races in the french alps or pyrenees. On the other hand alot more races in Italy, Spain and Switzerland contain alot more high mountains even at amateur levels.

I think that may be part of the reason France has relatively harder to find good climbers.
 
Don't know about that Virenque thing but French seem to like a rider with charastericts like Virenque. I think it's more about that Madiot philosofy "Doesn't matter if you don't win if you ride clean" and every young talent gets a huge amount of pressure from the French media.