There has been much chatter around the traps discussing the constant deluge that has plagued the 2013 edition of the Giro d’Italia. Many riders have long bowed out of the race with Sir Wiggins’ departure being the most notable; Cavendish even let his frustration be known following the finish of stage 14 atop the Jafferau reporting, “I can’t remember feeling like that on a bike, I really, don’t. I was completely empty”.
Several questions have been asked all to frequently by now: ‘Should stage ‘X’ have been cancelled?’, ‘should racing be delayed?’, ‘should the date of the race proper be changed?’. Too easily we forget that the Giro is a race founded upon struggles far greater than these that we have witnessed over the last two weeks. The Giro has never been a race defined by a leisurely gallop in fields of sunshine, it is a race made glorious by the triumph of human endurance over all odds.
The heroics of Charly Gaul upon the great Monte Bondone in the 1956 Giro are but one such example. 89 riders started out to race upon the slopes of the 5413 foot beast that is Bondone; through first rain, turning to snow and finally blizzard, Charly emerged in no more than shorts and a shirt over 12 minutes ahead of only 42 other finishers. Frost bitten and tortured Charly had to be carried away from the race before going on to win the Giro just two days later.
Even by modern standards we must remember that these last weeks have not yet reached the truly abysmal, both Nibali and Evans could attest to that. At the 2010 edition as the peloton raced along the Strade Bianche the heavens opened and the white roads hissed back with a mud so horrid even the true hard men were brought to tears.
While this years Giro has by no means been an easy ride, let us not forget that it could have been, and may yet become, so very much tougher.