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Il Giro d’Italia 2014 – Stage 4; Giovinazzo – Bari, 121 km. Rain (almost) Stops Play, Nacer Bouhanni wins


Nacer BouhanniNacer Bouhanni took the win today. A few years ago in that much missed part of Scottish cycling history which was the Girvan Three Day – old timers like me still want to say; ‘Grants of Girvan,’ the race originally sponsored by that purveyor of the water of life – a stage was curtailed because of snow.

The journos did the rounds of riders, management and officials who all said broadly the same thing, that given the conditions it was a wise decision.

Nacer Bouhanni
The riders discuss whether to race or not on the slippy roads. Photo©Fabio Ferrari

Then someone asked Shane Sutton; ‘f**king woosies’ replied the hard man from Down Under – and that’s a PC version of what he said.

The latest ‘polemica,’ which is defined as: ‘a contentious speech act; a dispute where there is strong disagreement’ from the Giro is the neutralisation of Stage Four into Bari – and I just know that Shane would have said; ‘let your tyres down and get on with it, woosies!

But the words of a man with the experience of Ale Jet Petacchi (QuickStep & Italy) have to be given respect:

“It’s easy to criticise from a car or from television but I can assure you that it was difficult to stay upright.”

One comment I have heard from a few folks is that it was daft to finish a stage with a circuit race.

But having visited this part of Italy during the Giro, I can confirm that it was simply bad luck for the organisers that there was such a downpour.

You’re getting close to Africa; there are lots of olive groves, prehistoric stone structures, dust and not much else – including rain.

The vehicles down here in this poorest part of the country would send a Scottish VOSA (Vehicle Operator Service Agency) inspector into some sort of a fit – three wheeled Bianchi pick-ups, tractors and vans which make my Transit look good, belch fumes, all the while leaking oil and fuel.

That’s not really a problem in the heat and dust; but give that oil and diesel a generous coating of lukewarm rain water and it becomes a different ball game.

Nacer Bouhanni
Treacherous road conditions meant the stage was (mostly) neutralised. Photo©Fabio Ferrari

However, what I don’t really understand is that if it’s that dangerous, how can the last lap still be contested ‘full on?’

Surely it’s either too dangerous or it’s not?

When poled for his opinion, our man Dave – one of our team of resident Cycling Warrior-Poets with Vik and Ivan – had this to say:

“I don’t remember anyone wanting not to race just because of some rain back in Eddy Merckx’s day?

“With a lot of them it’s because they don’t want their hair styles messed up – and maybe if they took those sunglasses off they could see where they were going.

“And if I was the organiser, I wouldn’t be handing out any money for that performance!”

Imagine if Dave, Vik and Ivan got into the UCI – things would be different then…

And dangerous or not, it was names we’re well familiar with who were all there at the death – Nacer Bouhanni, Giacomo Nizzolo, Tom Veelers (of whom more in a moment), the suicidal Roberto Ferrari, and Elia Viviani.

Kittel’s retiral raised my eyebrow – and that’s all I’ll say – but must have the other sprinters down on their knees and giving thanks to their Mecca (would that be the Champs-Élysées, Via Roma or Schoten where the Scheldeprijs finishes?) for the disappearance of the Raging German Bull.

But despite the loss of Kittel, his lead out man Veelers was right there – and don’t forget that Giant have Luka Mezgec too.

Credit to Bouhanni however, he survived a late wheel change to win and swaps his nice blue F des J jersey for an even nicer Rossa one.

Nacer Bouhanni
Nacer Bouhanni deserves the credit for getting back to the bunch after a puncture, making the front group and staying upright when racing full-on. Photo©Fabio Ferrari

A half shift just for GreenEdge with Matthews still safe in pink; although that could change on Wednesday with a third cat. and two fourth cat. ascents – the stage finishing at the top of the second one in Viggiano.

The local hero is Domenico Pozzovivo and with a strong AG2R team behind him, he’ll be sure to show.

Matthews gets over the ‘medium mountains’ not too bad so could still be in pink at the end of the day; but with men like Rodriguez in the mix that last climb is going to be sore.

Last word on Stage Four from the BMC press release; ‘An Unusual Day’ – indeed.

Ciao, ciao.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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