Cycling News

The Epic 2024 Season Restart

63rd Itzulia Basque Country 2024 - Stage 4

This may be something of a pointless yawp, but I can’t help but note that once again, everything you need to know about professional cycling can be explained by country music.

Take it away, Emmylou…

Yes, cycling, like life in Appalachia, has a certain rhythm to it whereby your enjoyment of it ebbs and flows like the tides, or the lunar cycles, or some other mystical shit. And the hallmark of this life rhythm is just as Emmylou says: the darkest hour is just before the dawn.

And yeah, I am talking about the Giro d’Italia. My beloved race, which I routinely start off celebrating like an Italian main dish (so great) and end up celebrating like an Italian dessert (is it?). Some years the Giro is everything you want in a grand tour, with the most incredible action taking place in the most charming setting (no disrespect to the remote forests of southern Spain). Other years it… wants to be good. And then this year. It just was what it was, more of an exhibition of cycling than a GC battle, with some very lovely stage battles, because nothing in the Giro is ever all that bad. But it was nearly impossible to get excited about the race, at any point, for more than an hour at a time.

Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images

This was, in my opinion, the pre-dawn, moonless darkness settling over the sport in what was billed as a year for stupendously awesome showdowns. As we all know, the promised glory of 2024 was seemingly snuffed out in one week’s time, from March 27’s Dwars door Vlaanderen to April 4’s fourth stage of the Itzulia Basque Tour, where half of the Classics stars and all but one of the Tour de France favorites suffered horrendous crashes that put the entire season on a glide path to Hell. The sun set slowly over Flanders, where we could squint and watch Mathieu van der Poel hungrily devour the uneaten courses laid out for him and his chief rivals. In the dim moonlight of April we watched some mildly amusing races play out, leading into the Giro, and all along the way the only real action was wondering how many helpings of glory Tadej Pogačar could wolf down as he soloed home to another win. It wasn’t terrible, it was still cycling.

But it wasn’t what we were promised. Not at all.

But in ones and twos, the heroes of cycling are returning. Pogačar’s Giro win may…

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