Today is the penultimate day of the Giro d'Italia. The roughly 3000 km stage race, lasting three weeks is wrapping up.
As you read in this space three weeks ago, this was to be the Giro of Peace, Il Giro della Pace. The race started outside of Europe, the first of the three Grand Tours ever to do so, in Jerusalem, city of peace, to be exact. The expectations of the organizers were that the race would end at the Vatican, but it could be a permitting issue kept them from doing so. Instead, the closing stage, Sunday, will pass by the Coliseum.
Friday, a virtual unknown surged to the front. Actually no. Christopher Froome, who has assembled an impressive Palmares while touting the anti doping line, actually took first place in impressive style on Friday's Alpine mountain stage, which finished a few yards from France. Tom Dumoulin, last year's overall winner, and notable for having "digestive problems" in last year's Giro ("you mean I run through Italy, and they don't even give me a pooper scooper?"), was leading the race until Friday.
Chris Froome, most unfortunately, may not have his A and B samples in order, and is under great suspicion for having doped in a race last year. Only in cycling would officials wait until after a race had been ridden before announcing a positive result, and vacating the title won by the cyclists. It is to be hoped that Chris Froome is as pure as the driven snow, well, not that kind of snow, and will be made known to have won honestly.
Today's stage is a 214 km (133 mile) ride from Susa in the Turin Province, through the Valle d'Aosta, to end at Cervinia. There are three Category One climbs in the last 50 or so miles (80 or so km), so this should provide a challenge and also separate sheep from goats, or Froomes from Dumoulins. Set your alarms, the stage starts early. Sundays 115 km race through Rome, in 10 11.5 km laps, should challenge no one, and not change any standings.
In Aussie Rules Football, Saturday's match between the Brisbane Lions and the Sydney Swans should provide some interest. Brisbane are perpetual losers with regard to the Swans, but last week broke the nine year losing streak against the Hawthorn Hawks, and will be the hosts at The Gabba.
They may be able to harness that energy, but they are 17th on the ladder, whilst Sydney is at 5th, and beat Hawthorn themselves two weeks ago, and won last week against Fremantle.
The Swans' Lance Franklin returns with this game, and when these two teams last met, the day was clearly his. Any time you play the Swans, slowing down Franklin is a big ask, and this week that task will go to Harris Andrews. The young Lions fullback was exceptional against Hawk Jarryd Roughead last Sunday, but with Franklin's speed and ability to move up the ground, this week is a whole new proposition.
Brisbane has been highly competitive in all but one match this season, and will have to be at its best to challenge the professional Swans, who have won their last 10 meetings. Saturdays other matches include Richmond against St. Kilda, Geelong against Carlton, and the Giants against Essendon.