Saturday, August 06, 2016

Crash Ruins Prospect Of Olympic Gold For Italy’s Cycling Star the “Shark Of Messina”

Posted by Peter Quennell

What a real shocker for cycling-mad Italy..

You could watch world-class cycling for years, and maybe never see anything quite like this.

The men’s Olympic cycling road race is unusually long and grueling - six hours on average.

The American TV commenters were agreeing that the course, on the coast just south of Rio, was the most beautiful ever - and also the most dangerous.

Termed dangerous because there were three steep descents down one mountain, and then two more descents, even steeper, down another mountain with a ten-to-one gradient.

A main leader throughout, Vincenzo Nibali, is not for nothing called the Shark of Messina.

Just minutes before the race’s end a breakaway group of 3 cyclists, including Nibali, were heading down the final descent so fast that the motorbike with the camera could not keep up with them.

Breathtaking stuff. Normally you just never ever see that happen.  All 3 disappeared from sight, leaving just shots of an empty road descending sharply.

When the TV camera DID catch up with them several minutes later it was only because of what you see in the video - two of the lead cyclists unstuck at a probable 60-plus mph.

The commentators had been saying a gold for Nibali seemed certain. Now he is not only out of the Olympics - he is being flown back to Italy for surgery.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/06/16 at 07:23 AM in The wider contextsItalian context


If you are watching the Olympics in real time as we are on the US East Coast, the women’s road race now under way will be descending that same breakneck slope in about an hour.

I sure hope they all make it down safely. Crashes are always horrible to have to watch. Half a dozen of today’s riders were interviewed, and all said they learned a lot from watching the mens race.  Italy has a strong team, one of five countries with four riders.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/07/16 at 01:57 PM | #

Well, I hope nobody saw the terrible fall the leader Annemiek van Vleuten took on that same hill - after which there was almost no transmission from the descent, unlike yesterday.

Her team says Annemiek is “okay” possibly meaning no broken bones, but she looked like a rag doll and some viewers at least must have wondered if they just saw a fatal accident.

An Italian woman won the bronze medal. Womens cycling is interesting, slowly building more of an audience.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/07/16 at 04:40 PM | #

I saw the crash of van Vleutin Peter. It was horrific.

She apparently has three broken bones in her back and is in intensive care although not in immediate danger.

That was as bad a crash as I’ve seen. Potentially fatal and she was probably fortunate it was wasn’t worse considering the speed and angle and she fell at.

Our own Lizzie Armitstead ended up 5th. We were spared the possible booing of an Olympic medalist if she had got on the podium.

Although not proven as a drugs cheat, she has no one to blame but herself that she found herself in the position of being suspected.

Posted by davidmulhern on 08/07/16 at 07:25 PM | #

David is right. Despite claims that she “avoids serious injury” she is in intensive care with three cracks in her vertebrae. There is some criticism of the lack of safety fencing. It should show up now when they use that slope for other races.

I cracked several vertebrae in that same city while on a UN mission, fooling in the surf at Copacabana Beach. I didnt know about the cracks till they showed up on a MRI scan years later. Still love ya Rio. I never met a Brazilian staff member in the UN if there are any. They are just really happy in their own country.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/07/16 at 07:33 PM | #

Both frontrunners Nibali and van Vleuten were deprived of gold. Unusual, perhaps unique.

Theres no video of Nibali and another rider coming off their bikes, they had left the cameraman in the dust.

But somehow the cameraman kept up with van Vleuten, who was doing a tremendous speed. Her front wheel seemed to hit a wet spot as she slowed for one of the few sharp curves.

She tweeted this with right now 5,489 retweets and 14,012 likes. Click below to see the hundreds of responses:

<blockquote class=“twitter-tweet” data-lang=“en”>I am now in the hospital with some injuries and fractures, but will be fine. Most of all super disappointed after best race of my career.— Annemiek van Vleuten (@AvVleuten) August 8, 2016</blockquote>

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/08/16 at 05:54 AM | #

Speaking of Amanda Knox. Tell me, what is the walking yeast infection doing these days. Bet Chris is wondering where he got herpes from. Won’t be long now though. Another boy friend hits the road.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 08/10/16 at 09:19 PM | #

Italy is in the Olympic news in a surprising way. It is an Italian company (Mondo) that laid down the blue running track (and other top tracks around the world) along with many other facilities.

These are so good that they are in part being credited by the pleased athletes themselves with the obvious and very nice “performance creep”.

[Sprinter Usain Bolt] knows from watching Wayde Van Niekerk shatter Michael Johnson’s two-decade old 400m record that the electric blue Mondo track in Rio deserves its reputation as the fastest of all time.

There are some reports on the web about the nanotechnology that Mondo used to get the track just right. Mondo’s HQ is in Alba between Genoa and Turin and it runs 9 plants around the world - leaving the competition in the dust.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/17/16 at 10:58 AM | #
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