Giro d’Italia Stage 1: Alghero to Olbia (206km)
So what might have been going through the head of Mirco Maestri at the start of the Giro this morning?
There was the matter of his two teammates — the “idiots” Ruffoni and Pirazzi as your team boss described them –sent home in disgrace the previous night for positive dope tests. On top of that you’re viewed with suspicion by the world’s media, who naturally lean towards the “just the old days” interpretation of the sport. And all the while you’re left wondering if your team will be able to race, and exactly who will be next to set off the siren on the wee-wee machine.
After all, one teammate had won a stage at the Tour of Croatia a little over a week ago, and evidently couldn’t stop pedaling until he won a second stage a day later. Meanwhile another teammate had attacked on the climbs, breathing through his nose and foaming at the mouth.
That meant there was faith to restore, and only one realistic option as the flag waved signaling the start of the 100th Giro d’Italia. Get in the break. Show willing, a little effort, and make it clear to everyone you’re not one of the “idiots”.
In those circumstances you’d forgive a man for trying a little too hard, being a little too eager to make a good impression. Things like saying sorry a lot to other riders, taking longer turns at the front, and not complaining when the others darted off to pick up sprint or KOM points.
Maestri did all of this; getting the Bardiani colours on screen in a good way again, while hoping that his mussette bag didn’t contain rice cakes, half a bottle of scotch, and a loaded revolver.
Then, having worked with the break of six to the point where they reached the first climb, they promptly pulled away and left him, without even a by your leave, inadvertently proving his innocence along the way.
And with that the rebuilding of faith had begun. Although you suspect Bardiani will be doing more of this over the next three weeks, and beyond, to make sure.