THE ROUTE OF the 2012 Giro d’Italia was unveiled last night in a ceremony attended by a number of high-profile figures, among then controversial 2011 champion Alberto Contador.
Critics have accused organisers of sacrificing the health and safety of cyclists in recent years in an effort to contrive dramatic stage finishes, leading former director Angelo Zomegnan to be accused, among other things, of promoting a cycling “freak show”.
Debate over the issue appeared to come to a head earlier this year, when the death of Belgian sprinter Wouter Weylandt on a tricky descent during the race’s third stage encouraged a number of prominent riders to voice their reservations about race safety.
The Guardian reports that next year’s event, organised by new director Michele Acquarone, will feature neither consecutive mountain-top finishes nor excessively tiring transfers between stages.
Aside from making the race “more human,” as Contador– unlikely to defend his title next year– would have it, the changes will also make the Giro a more appealing prospect for sprinters.
Over the past several years, top-tier sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Alessandro Petacchi have made a tradition of abandoning the race after its comparatively flat opening fortnight.