I love that word. We all know what that word means, without having to add much more to it. We have all been there; we know what the experience before during and after Epic entails. Yesterday, Stage 16 of the 2009 Centennial Giro d’Italia was deemed Epic. It seemed that jointly everyone decided that the day deserved that title.
I saw videos of the men dazed holding the pink profile maps in their hands before the race. The maps that showed what lay ahead for the day – the 4 category climbs plus the many non-category but race defining climbs over 143 miles with dirt and small passages and winding technical descents in and out of small towns. Over 7 hours would be spent in the saddle racing in a heatwave.
I saw the crowded conditions between support vehicles, riders, fans and motorcycles, and the steep roadside drop-offs. I watched the breaks, the repeated attacks, the faces of pain, the faces of defeat, the untimely mechanicals and the new time gaps resulting at the finish line. I watched men that by now couldn’t remember where they were or where they were headed, but knew that what they had just experienced was Epic.
Now I realize that when we apply the word Epic, what we are really saying is that we never want to experience that again. Epic is only fun to talk about after the fact; Epic is not fun to live in the moment.
Johan Bruyneel’s quote today on Twitter: “Success isn't permanent, and failure isn't fatal”. The stage winner Carlos Sastre’s average speed for the day was 20.25mph. Mick Roger's quote of the day after admitting he had thought of quitting cycling on the second to last ascent, “Had there been a small lake I would have abandoned the race for a swim”.
Giro d’Italia 2009 Stage 16 GC Standings:
1 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 7.11.54 (32.646km/h)
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.25
3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini 0.26
4 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas 0.29
5 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo 1.19
6 Francesco Masciarelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo 1.21
7 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
8 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale 2.11
9 Jose Serpa (Col) Serramenti PVC 2.35
10 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 2.51
11 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
12 David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
13 Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Serramenti PVC
14 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Columbia - Highroad 3.02
15 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - Highroad
Giro d’Italia is one of the three Grand Tours. Numerous articles are available on CyclingNews.com and VeloNews.com. Stage 16 profile, map, and google earth images available on SteepHill.tv. Read a rider diary of the day by Michael Barry. Race viewing online – follow the option to Universal Sports on CyclingFans.com, or turn on your TV to 9-3 or 250, the action continues every day until Sunday, except for today when riders need a rest day after an Epic.