We’re going to level with you. Most riders don’t really care for team presentations. It’s more of “have to” than a “want to”, a smile and wave, a sign an autograph, snap a selfie necessity en route to getting the show on the road.
The Giro d’Italia team presentation? The stoke level wasn’t exactly through the roof en route to Alghero. The boys lingered on the bus, lazily tumbling out the doors when their presence was requested on stage. And then…
Gladiator music was booming over the loud speakers, and fans crowded along the side of the roads as the riders rolled onto the carpet that led to a holding area. All the teams crowded into tents awaiting their turn on stage.
Astana took the stage first. They were only eight. Michele Scarponi had been tapped as team leader before his tragic death, and his team opted not to replace him. A quiet took hold and riders stood at attention as Giro organisers played a video tribute that showcased a larger than life Scarponi riding, racing, winning…always with a smile. The moment was quick but poignant – a reminder of what’s at stake and the family feel within teams and among them.
We were the ninth team to take the stage, led up the walkway by a young woman in a #GreenArgyle jersey holding an American flag. Announcers called out each rider by name. A smile, a wave. And they all rolled back to the bus.
“For me, it was pretty special,” said Mike Woods, a grand tour debutante. “I’m finally here. I finally get to start. I’m happy to say I’m really doing the Giro d’Italia. The team presentation makes it feel that bit more special – all the people, the fanfare. There’s a lot of energy and excitement here. It’s hard to not be happy now.”