Back in January, we ran a series of articles entitled: “2012: British cycling’s greatest year”. By May, it felt that we were on to something.
Mark Cavendish flew to Denmark for the start of the Giro d’Italia knowing he would have the full and undivided support of his teammates.
The race, however, would turn out to be a snapshot of the Manxman’s season in the rainbow jersey of world road race champion.
Three stage wins showcased Cavendish’s relentless desire to win, even in a race that many doubted he would trouble to finish.
But narrow defeat in the battle for overall triumph in the red jersey competition, and cuts and bruises sustained in a kamikaze move by Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) on stage three, continued a season of highs and lows.
The Giro is the first of the season’s Grand Tours and a race of such historical importance to the sport, that its sometimes difficult for those of us outside of Italy to grasp.
We decided to find out what Italy’s biggest race, and arguably its greatest gift to international sport, meant to the people who lived it.
We caught up with one of Team Sky’s soigneur’s Mario Pafundi, one of a small army of backroom staff brought to Grand Tours by cycling’s WorldTour teams.
The Italian, a soigneur of 10 years experience, and a man who grew up entwined with the rich traditions of Italian cycling, told us that while football was the most popular sport in Italy, the Corsa Rosa belonged to the people.
His sentiments were echoed by Claudio Salomoni, international sales director at Wilier, an Italian bike bike builder whose 106-year history is longer even than the Giro, and who, as supplier to the Lampre-ISD team, were providing the machinery on which Michele Scarponi would attempt to defend his title.
Two British riders with recent, first hand experience of the romance and suffering of the Giro d’Italia are Russell Downing and Daniel Lloyd. We asked both to share their memories of the Italian national tour.
A series of races increasingly becoming part of the British summer, the Halfords Tour Series, began for the fourth consecutive year in May, with an extended programme of 11 rounds and a team time trial.
Seven rounds were held in May, with huge crowds turning out to watch the racing in towns from Kirkcaldy to London.
Endura Racing won five of those rounds, with Rapha Condor Sharp required to deploy talents of the quality of double Olympic gold medalist, Ed Clancy, and formal national road race champion, Kristian House.