However, some don’t think it needs to be so “spectacular”. Some of the riders in the Giro are saying that there is too much climbing and all this does is slow down and neutralise the race. I don’t think the outcome would have been any different this year if there was less climbing, but it definitely could have been a more exciting race to watch. This has to do with Contador’s domination more than anything else. Watching a battle for second is much less thrilling than watching a race for first.

Let’s compare this year’s Giro with 2010.

Contador spent over 84 hours in the saddle over the past 3 weeks and the last rider (Jos Van Emden) spent nearly 90hrs. Despite all the climbing, Contador’s winning time is less than last year when Ivan Basso won in 87:44hrs, and the last rider in 92:33hrs (Marco Corti). 2010 was 3,485km long and averaged 39.7km/hr. This year’s Giro was 3,494km long (or 3,524km, or 3,474km, depending on where you look) and averaged ~41.5km/hr. I’m not exactly sure of the vertical gain in last year’s Giro, but I roughly worked out that this year had nearly 30,000 meters of climbing. Incredible. You can see the full Giro history of times and average speeds here (although this year’s distance is in dispute). The general trend however is that it’s getting faster and faster.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story and even if this year was faster than previous editions, there was definitely less drama in the racing. Would the racing have been any more dramatic without Contador there? Possibly. Did the excessive amount of climbing play a part? It’s tough for me to say while sitting at my desk having a coffee. We’ll have to rely on the riders’ opinions on that one.

Contador has gained my respect over the past three weeks. Not only for his elegance and strength on the bike, but for his class on stage 14 and stage 19. I could do without the fingerbang antics, but I sure hope all allegations against him are proven false (beyond a reasonable doubt) very soon and we can enjoy the TdF without all the controversy.

I’d like to sincerely thank Veeral Patel for passing along his spectacular photos to us after every stage. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Veeral has been contributing since this blog started and he’s now quit is office job to pursue his dream of becoming a professional cycling photographer. After speaking with Veeral many times over the past 3 weeks, I’m pretty sure that working in his cushy cubical was much easier than this gig. He wouldn’t trade it back for anything though.

I also want to thank Cameron Meyer for contributing his daily Giro diary for us to read an inside view of the race. I still don’t understand how he finds the time or energy to do this almost every day.

I love following the Giro, but I gotta admit – I’m kinda ready to move on. I’m exhausted and I’ve only ridden about 200km’s over the past 3 weeks. These Grand Tours take their toll! I’m looking forward to talking about some other topics and getting back to the tips for the next month until the Tour. That said, I’m very excited about the Tour!

Cam’s Giro Diary

You can also follow Cam Meyer on twitter and on his facebook page

Coming soon. I’m guessing Cam is absolutely rooted at the moment after his awesome TT for 7th place yesterday.

Photos

courtesy of Veeral Patel, Sirotti, and RCS

Stage 21 Results

1 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:30:13
2 Alex Rasmussen (Den) HTC-Highroad 0:00:07
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:36
4 Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:43 (Go Richie!)
5 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team RadioShack 0:00:55
6 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:02
7 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:04 (Go Cammer!)
8 Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-Highroad 0:01:08
9 Tiago Machado (Por) Team RadioShack 0:01:12
10 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad 0:01:16

Final General Classification

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 84:05:14
2 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre – ISD 0:06:10
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:06:56
4 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:10:04
5 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:11:05
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana 0:11:28
7 José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli 0:12:12
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC 0:12:18
9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:13:51
10 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad 0:14:10

81 Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard 2:46:57
137 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo 4:05:04