Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Stage Races Baby, Yeah!
My cyclist told me, once I'd finally grudgingly admitted that watching cycling on the telly wasn't akin to cruel and unusual punishment for shoplifting employed by the likes of Al Qaeda and probably was better than Emmerdale after all, that I would eventually grow to love the Classics above all other races. While I won't deny I enjoy these races, I still prefer a good solid stage race to get my teeth into. Paris-Nice? Why don't mind if I do! etc.
And yay! It's May! So thanks to the Giro, and now AToC, the Skybox is full and I'm not even kidding. I've just had to delete 2 entire and unwatched series of The Wire just to make room for Jersey Shore (I think we'll all agree as to which is the more seminal televisual masterpiece). But oh! The palaver!
Dearest Eurosport, home to the cringworthy Sidi adverts that make me feel like I want to dettol my eyes and the gruntiest of Eastern European Women's Tennis, a question for you - and this is important: How hard exactly is it to timetable a highlights programme for the same time every day? ITV4 manage it (when they cover the races, that is) - 7 'til 8, after The Sweeney; we all know where we stand. Wrangling with Eurosport and the Sky+ gives me The Fear. The sodding thing won't series link and I don't know why, and the coverage on at 6pm on Tuesday and 11pm on Wednesday, and somehow we've got Stage 5 twice and no Stage 6, and here's 45 minutes of Ladies Curling that I'm sure I didn't order. I have to sit down every couple of days and go through the listings with a fine toothed comb, setting to record each of the installments individually, hoping against hope that I don't fuck it up.
Oh god I haven't set it up for the Tour Series yet...
But anyway. The Giro. I've got a horrible, terrible dirty little secret. I'm not really 'getting' it, and I couldn't work out why. It all started so promisingly. I LOVE a TTT. LOVE, with capitals and italics and everything. Generally, TT's are my absolute favourite stages anyway - Race of Truth and not half - but a TTT?! *Claps hands and reaches for the Ferrero Rocher* But it's all fallen apart for me a little bit since then.
Now, this is worrying me. You see, I've read ProCycling and I know full well the Giro is supposedly the connoisseur's Grand Tour. Thems what knows these things says this one is the best. This is the sophisticated Green and Blacks 70% Organic Dark Chocolate to the Cadbury Twirl of the Tour de France. Oh! So obvious! But me and the Giro just aren't working out, and it was last night, while discussing this very topic with the cyclist and a glass of wine and watching Stage 1 of the AToC that I worked out why. You see, it's not the Giro, it's me.
I'm new to all this, not steeped in the romance and history of it all; a major aspect of the sport which seems so important to so many and that I really haven't got my head around yet. I like my shit flash and brash, and frankly I'm not going to apologise for that. I watch Grey's Anatomy, not Casualty. I couldn't care less for gritty Ken Loach dramas - I want Bruce Willis crashing a police car into a helicopter. So there's the Giro... and then there's AToC. AToC, with its riders I actually recognise (Oh! I like him! Oh! And him!), its shiny clean all-American glow, and (and this is more important than it probably should be) its Tupac soundtrack (shake it shake it baby).
I understand all the reasons why the AToC exists (basically it boils down to selling stuff) and all the reasons why there are so many big-name riders over there (basically it boils down to selling stuff). But I have no problem with selling stuff. Sell away! The more stuff you sell, the more races there will be for me to watch! The AToC seems (to a newbie at least) a little more easily accessible than the Giro.
[Please note - even I am aware that AToC is not a Grand Tour. My comparison of the 2 races stems from the fact that they are running concurrently, not that they are equal in status.]
I haven't given up on the Giro just yet, though. There's still plenty of time for me to fall in love...
And I suppose that's another of the things that's so great about cycling - it really does cater for everyone, from the lifelong aficionado to the daft blonde who can't work the Sky+.