I swore I wouldn’t waste even a second of my time writing about “L’Affaire du Sprint” involving Ferrari, Horseface, The Anointed One, and the other riders who fell down in the gallop to the line at the end of Stage 3 in the 2012 Giro d’Italia. But then again, I’m an inveterate liar.
As is usual in such cases, the most eloquent explanations come from those involved. Before we get to that, however, let’s review a few basic rules of field sprinting in major races.
Rule 1: If you cross the line first, you win.
Rule 2: Everyone else doesn’t win.
Rule 3: If you fall down, you’re an idiot.
Rule 4: If you make someone else fall down, you might get punished. Or you might wind up with Rule 1 and a contract renewal.
Rule 5: Field sprinters win by sprinting in proximity to lots of other crazily flailing madmen. They take enormous risks to do so and invariably crash. It’s their job.
Rule 6: There is no prize for “Non-winner with the best excuse for not winning.”
Rule 7: Everyone is crazy mad dangerous can’t hold a fucking line in a sprint except you.
Recap: Roberto Ferrari swerved in the sprint and knocked down Horseface, The Anointed One, and a bunch of people who don’t matter because they’re not Horseface or The Anointed One.
This type of thing never happens in pro cycling, especially in big races, well, okay, it happens rarely, really rarely, like hardly ever. For example:
Stage 22, TdF 1991, li’l mix-up
Stage 4, TdSuisse 2010, Horseface brings down the house
Stage 11, TdF 2010, Whingey shows “respect” with head-butt
Schildeprijs 2009, uh, BAM!
Stage 1, Eneco Tour 2009, dude in orange “holds his line”…but the line is about 6-ft. wide
Stage 10, VaE 1994, Cipo changes lanes into barriers…oops
Stage 7, Tirreno-Adriatico 1999, shoulder check, launch, and bike toss
When I used to whine like this, I got a whipping
“Because things are changing in the peloton, there’s not the respect that there used to be. That means there’s a lot more crashes…a sprint team wants to stay at the front, and a sprint team is fighting with a GC team. If every team tries to stay together and stay at the front it becomes more of a stress.” Mark Cavendish
In other words, the sprint stages should only be contested by the “sprint” teams. The “GC” teams should leave Cav alone. It’s his stage, dude. Gots his name on it. Oh, and what exactly is a “GC” team? A team that shouldn’t be bothering with minor things like stage wins? And what about “GC” teams that also have “sprint” teams, like, uh…Horseface’s squad and Garmacuda? Or is this another one of those unwritten rule deals, where riders are just supposed to “know” when they can contest a stage? But it gets better…
“Since Highroad fell apart, there seems to be a lot less respect for each team during the leadout. On Monday we saw Sky try and take control and yet still there were riders coming underneath on the corners. When Highroad was in action, other teams would base their sprint on riding off the back of us and their tactic was to wait until the last minute. This year it’s a case of going to the front and if it’s detrimental to the team doing the lead out, then it doesn’t seem to matter.” Mark Renshaw
In other words, when Sky or Garmacuda or Rabobank goes to the front with a fancy lead-out train, sit back and let them fucking win. Just like last year. It’s called “respect.” What would these pathetic, cowering whiners have done if they’d had to face someone like Abdoujaparov? Besides poop in their shorts, I mean.
“Ouch! Crashing at 75kph isn’t nice! Nor is seeing Roberto Ferrari’s manoeuvre. Should be ashamed to take out Pink, Red & World Champ jerseys.” Mark Cavendish
Dangerous sprinting is bad, but dangerous sprinting that knocks down really important riders is worse, because, you know, they’re really important. Also, as the Red and World Champ jersey, he’s two people, so it’s like, doubly bad. Of course, nothing wrong with shooting cute little “victory fuck you’s” to your adoring public, sponsors, TV cameras, families with small children…nothing wrong with that.
“Is the team of Roberto Ferrari or the UCI going to do the right thing? Other riders, including myself, have been sent home for much less.” Mark Cavendish
Really? I Googled “Mark Cavendish expulsion/expelled/disqualified/disqualification/sent home” and found nothing indicating that he’d ever been expelled from a pro race. And what brand of crack is he smoking? People get expelled from the Giro for doping, like Pantani, or disqualified, like Contador. People get expelled for deliberate cheating, like Gerald Froome last year when he held onto a motorcycle to deliver him up to a feed zone. Dangerous sprinting gets you a relegation. Check this out from Stage 17 of the 2011 Giro, which involved actual one-armed punching and hitting in the sprint. There’s no “dual track,” where you get relegated for knocking down a domestique, but disqualified for knocking down Pink/Red/Rainbow jerseys.
Horseface would like different rules for himself…wouldn’t we all?