Aussies rule

Three stage wins and three jerseys, the Aussies are having a very good Giro. After gracing two jerseys and the top three places on GC for a few days, the Italians are finding it tough to score and are, no doubt, being lambasted in the pink pages of La Gazzetta dello Sport. But there’s plenty of stages left, particularly those in the tough 3rd week, for Italians to shine on home soil.

Will fans please go and light candles in their nearest church and pray for better weather in the Giro. Those boys are being assaulted by the elements every day. After Saturday’s mudbath and Sunday’s freezing fog atop the mountain finish, yesterday they had to contend with another torrential downpour. Mind you, it wasn’t much better over in the Tour of California which has allegedly been moved to May to take advantage of the more clement weather. Again, one can only assume insufficient lighting of candles and sacrifices to the weather gods. There’s plenty of riders covered in road rash after falling on yesterday’s wet stage to add to those who fell on Sunday in the final kilometre. Some, like George Hincapie, have fallen both days.

Meanwhile, we’re enjoying more clemency on the Cote d’Azur. I felt positively overdressed for Sunday’s ride. I followed the designated route on the club site, which necessitated a detour to collect a ticket. This is a device used by a number of clubs when their pointage is on the coast road to encourage the other clubs to take a longer ride. An additional point is awarded for the ticket. Happily, I felt no ill-effects whatsoever from Saturday’s ride and spun along quite happily in the warm sunshine. My beloved, with my permission, had ridden off with one of our clubmates.

Yesterday, as per the training programme, was a rest day and, coincidentally,  the best weather we’ve enjoyed so far this year. Fortunately, it looks set to continue. More importantly, yesterday afternoon, the club took a historic step. We’ve “signed” our first paid Directeur Sportif and first paid apprentice thanks to a rather novel French scheme. This has been set up in PACA to encourage ex-professionals and very good amateurs, in a variety of sports, to become  coaches at the grass roots level. Our DS is a retired policeman, and very good cyclist, who will spend 25hrs a week learning his new trade and 10hrs a week training our racers and cycling school. The apprentices are young, promising riders who will be fitting their schooling in around their cycling, not the other way around. This schooling will again equip them to become sports coaches though the hope, rather than expectation, is that at least one of them may become a professional cyclist. Best news of all, it costs us absolutely nothing. Yes, that’s right absolutely nothing.