Giro d'Italia logoThe things you learn whilst pursuing your craft as a simple cycling journo…

It struck me that Cannondale, Sky, Trek, Giant and Garmin had all cut off their noses to spite their face in refusing to assist F des J in pulling back the ultimately – if surprisingly – successful break of the day.

I thought I’d see where that expression,’cutting off your nose to spite your face‘ came from and consulted Wikipedia, which explained that;

“It may be associated with the numerous legends of pious women disfiguring themselves in order to protect their virginity.”

Going on to explain:

“The most famous of these cases was that of Æbbe the Younger, the Mother Superior of the monastery of Coldingham. In 867 AD, Viking pirates from Zealand and Uppsala landed in Scotland.

“When news of the raid reached Saint Ebba, she gathered her nuns together and urged them to disfigure themselves, so that they might be unappealing to the Vikings. In this way, they hoped to protect their chastity.

“She demonstrated this by cutting off her nose and upper lip, and the nuns proceeded to do the same.

“The Viking raiders were so disgusted that they burned the entire building to the ground.”

So now we know – I’m just glad I’d had my dinner before I uncovered that gem.

Marco Canola takes the stage. Photo©Fabio Ferrari
Marco Canola takes the stage. Photo©Fabio Ferrari

There are two ways to look at this stage.

If you’re the best and the rest know that then you just have to get on with it – I can remember HTC setting Bert Grabsch to work with 100 K to go in a Tour stage to keep the break in check so as to set up Cav for the sprint some two-and-half hours later.

Maintaining control of breakaways comes with the territory if you’re a big sprinter’s team.

Remember GB in the Copenhagen Worlds – it’s called commitment.

But on the other hand, as Stephen Roche is prone to say; ‘if you’re not in it, you can’t win it.

It’s OK playing poker and then congratulating yourselves because you foiled Bouhanni’s fourth win – but it’s so damn negative and you’ve done nada.

Marco Canola
Nacer Bouhanni didn’t set his team to work, but then neither did the other, non-Giro-stage-winning teams either. Photo©Fabio Ferrari

The French Mike Tyson fan could be on a bad day, he could get boxed, puncture, crash – you have to ask what kind of sprinters are these?

Ones who are beaten before they begin’ would seem to be the answer.

But as Dario Cioni once told us; ‘it’s nice when the big teams sometimes get it wrong and the little guys win.’

But it’s all part of the three week saga that is the Giro and an Italian stage win is always better for the TV figures and Gazzetta headlines than a French one.

The edition of the Gazzetta which covers Bouhanni’s third stage win sums things up.

Initially I thought that it was the rest day issue because I couldn’t find anything on the front page.

Marco Canola
Spot the cycling reference.

But no, there was Nacer in danger of dropping off the bottom of the page complete with the postage stamp sized picture reserved for foreign sprint winners.

In Italia no one really cares about a French sprinter winning three stages – but if it was ‘Ale Jet’ Pettachi or ‘Super Mario’ Cipollini…

Inside, the Gazzetta lays the blame for the big finale stack up squarely at Tyler Farrar’s door; with aforementioned Ale Jet quoted as saying Tyler hit the deck 18 times last year – much as I respect big Ale, I’m not sure how he would be able to come up with that stat?

However, Farrar hasn’t disputed it – so it must be true or close to the correct number.

Marco Canola
Marco Canola.

But what of stage winner, Marco Canola?

We run the usual VeloVeritas MO on the 25 year-old from Campag’s home city of Vicenza and were startled to find his team ‘hero card’ has him bearing a startling resemblance to Henry Spencer central character in the the cult horror film, Eraser Head – spooky.

He had a whole raft of good rides as an amateur in Italy – Marco that is – before turning pro, culminating with a GC win in the Giro Del Veneto in 2011.

His first pro year with Colnago in 2012 – which morphed into Bardiani for 2013/14 and was where Sasha Modolo started his career – saw two wins, a stage win in Langkawi and a TTT win in the Giro di Padania.

Last season he was top 12 in the Tour of Denmark and visited Peebles in the rain for the Tour of Britain.

His form is good this year with King of the Mountains in Tirreno going his way and now making the Giro a huge success for his team.

The man went in the break, believed, kept the dogs at bay and won – you cannot knock any of that so respect to Henry, sorry, Marco.

Marco Canola
Canola celebrates a great win. Photo©Fabio Ferrari

Stage 14 is where it all gets serious; they’ve had climbs in the race already but not with two week’s worth of kilometres, rain, crashes, stress and polemica in their legs.

The stage is short by Pro Tour standards at ‘just’ 100 miles but there’s a third, a second and two first cat. ascents in there complete with mountain top finish on the second one at Oropa.

It could be spectacular if the likes of Pozzovivo decide to throw fireworks in the bonfire – but it could also be a damp squib for the ‘Bigs’ if they decide to look at one another and ponder the Gavia and Stelvio.

However, in this Giro I think it just might be the former.

Ciao, ciao.