A lesson in womens racing (and which way to aim champagne)

Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Communie De Cittiglio: Taino to Cittiglio

Coryn Rivera celebrates winning the Trofeo Binda

Those looking for some sort of recovery ride today after Milan-Sanremo, had limited options. Thankfully the Trofeo Alfredo Binda was on hand to fill the gap, even if at times it was like watching phone footage of a mugging, or something. Never has a bike race been so incomprehensible, and enjoyable, all at the same time.

First you had to come to terms with a few things, as journalist Sarah Connolly pointed out.

First you had to understand that this was a low budget operation (you were never under any other illusion). Secondly, there was no TV signal on the far part of the course, meaning you got to watch the commentators for these segments as well as hearing them. And finally, the moto-riders were not permitted to follow the group on the descent of the Orino – hard truths each of them, unless you were Italian, or capable of learning Italian in the space of about three hours.

With this established you could enjoy a fascinating, if heavily pixelated race, on a YouTube stream that did its utmost to see through the fog.

The commentary team working miracles

That’s where the commentary team came in, made up of a large man in a black shirt who did his best to explain things in Italian, and a young woman in white who did her best to translate everything into 16 languages, often at the same time. They were in a small tent off the finish line somewhere, much like you’d find at a summer fete or local radio roadshow.

There was a fixed camera on the finish line (which was your lot back in 2016) and moto-cameras beaming back occasional images of the peloton, which if you squinted meant you could see the  Ale Cipollini team, who presumably had the foresight to realise illuminous yellow shows up best on a dodgy internet stream.

From what we could make out the climbs were punishing. The Blair Witch footage meant Schadenfreude–cam didn’t show the stragglers in any clarity, their dignity intact as they struggled upwards.

In between came the result of the Junior event, which to those of us who had switched off the commentary, trying to make it alone, came as something of a surprise. Here came the bunch (that much was clear) sprinting for the line, with a rider in orange (Lorena Wiebes) crossing first with arms raised.

Lorena Wiebes, winner of the Junior Cup, gets instruction on which way to direct the champagne

Wiebes arrived for the presentation in jeans, which was fine because, so did the selection of men presenting each of the top three riders with trophies, flowers, and champagne. Then a man in a grey suit emerged, instructing them to aim the champagne in the general direction of the public, and not towards the advertising hoarding behind them.

The actual finish came after three-plus hours of relentless attacks, and at pace, captured by unstable moto-cameras in the style of a documentary team fleeing an unexpected volcano.

American Coryn Rivera of Sunweb pulled off what must have felt like an endless sprint from 200 meters, crossing the line for the biggest win of her career. There were no instructions for her on where to aim the champagne, and she was left to indulge in a well-earned celebration. One day, when races like this are finally shown on full budget regular TV; we’ll get to see how good riders like Rivera really are. We won’t have to squint either. Or learn Italian.

Leave your thoughts about this post in the comments below. You can also follow Off The Back on Twitter: @OffTheBackBlog.

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