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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » 2005 Giro d'Italia: Falco Swoops to Victory!
2005 Giro d'Italia: Falco Swoops to Victory!
World Cycling Productions // Unrated // November 1, 2005 // Region 0
List Price: $49.95 [Buy now and save at Worldcycling]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted December 20, 2005 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
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Highly Recommended
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The movie

Though the Giro d'Italia is usually overshadowed by the Tour de France, it's nonetheless one of the three Grand Tours (along with the Vuelta a EspaƱa) and it's often more exciting than the Tour. 2005 is no exception, as the Giro demonstrates more of what a stage race should be like: a race with several serious contenders for the overall victory, and an interesting mix of stages that delivers important action day in and day out.

From the beginning, the Giro benefits from having several credible contenders for the maglia rosa: Discovery's Paulo Savoldelli (the winner in 2002), CSC's Ivan Basso, and Lampre's fearsome pair of Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego (also both previous Giro winners). This is crucial, because the worst thing that can befall a stage race - meaning a race that's contested over multiple days, or stages - is for it to become a one-horse race. When one rider is vastly stronger than the others, the race can degenerate into a race for second place, with a resulting lack of excitement. Here, though, there's always the sense that any of the big names can seize upon the weakness of another and vault up into first place overall.

As is usually the case, the first week sees the pink jersey in the hands of the "fast men" of the peloton, while the main contenders bide their time waiting for the roads to tip upwards into the mountains, where the real challenges begin. This year's Giro sees some very exciting action in the mountains: early on, what seems like an unbreakable grip on the maglia rosa turns out to be not so tight after all, and we see some major shakeups in the general classification. It's great to see the big names making the action happen with attacks rather than just sitting back and letting their team push the pace. It's even better when Basso, Simoni, Savoldelli, Cunego, and (unexpectedly) Danilo Di Luca aggressively push each other around and keep the time differences relatively small between them. Some of the riders eventually blow up, while others continue to chase hard for the victory up to the very end.

There are some interesting choices of route for the stages of the 2005 Giro, most notably the penultimate stage from Savigliano to Sestriere. This brutal route with a mountaintop finish ncludes a never-before-used passage up the Colle della Finestre, giving us scenes that look like they came straight out of Fausto Coppi's day: winding routes and steep climbs up unpaved roads that look like they're more suited for mountain goats than racing cyclists. On the eve of the ride in to Milan, it gives the Giro one more day of excellent attacking action, as the riders who are only a little bit behind the lead give it their all to take the maglia rosa.

I've often noted that the sprints in the Giro always seem to be more exciting than their counterparts in the Tour, and in 2005 it's no exception. The early sprint stages of this year's Giro are notable in being a little tricky, with things like unexpected rises to the finish line or twists and turns rather than rail-straight lanes in the final kilometer. As a result, Fassa Bortolo's superstar sprinter Alessandro Petacchi has it tough: even with a squad devoted exclusively to leading him out in the sprints (Fassa didn't even bring a contender for the general classification) Petacchi finds that victory can be frustratingly elusive at first. In the straight-up sprints Erik Zabel is a strong contender, the more so because he's facing up to Petacchi's blue train on his own, with no lead-out men supporting him from his own team, T-Mobile. What makes the early section of the Giro most interesting, in my mind, is the efforts of Classics stars Danilo Di Luca and Paulo Bettini. Normally these riders shine in the one-day events rather than in the stages of a three-week tour, so it's fun to see them mixing it up here and even taking the maglia rosa.

World Cycling Productions' coverage of the 2005 Giro is excellent overall. For the most part, the stages are edited to perfection, with just the right amount of racing action shown, whether that's just showing the last few kilometers on a sprint stage or giving us more than an hour of coverage on a key mountain stage with lots of attacking action. I did find that one of the middle mountain stages was given a bit too much attention, with long stretches that don't have anything interesting happening, but apart from that, the pacing is handled quite well. Considering that the race is given a substantial five hours of running time, that's a sign of both an exciting race and good editing. Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen provide the commentary, as usual, and do an excellent job of it.

The DVD

The 2005 Giro is a three-DVD set, packaged in a double-wide plastic keepcase. Unfortunately we have spoilers galore on the cover, the title, the third DVD's cover art, and the menus. Sigh. Considering that these races have excellent replay value, it would be better to not get reminded of who won on which year. The chapters are useful, though.

Video

The Giro is presented in a respectable transfer at its original television broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The picture is clean and clear, though at times a bit soft; it's not as crisp as some of the other races of the year. The colors are uniformly excellent, though, and that's essential for a bike race, with all those colored team jerseys. It's also nice to note that there are very few instances of "picture break-up," even though that's strictly a source issue and doesn't have anything to do with the transfer.

Audio

The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is clean and sounds pleasant, with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen's commentary always crisp and easy to understand. The race ambiance is nicely balanced to give some background flavor behind the commentary.

Extras

A start list with all the teams and riders in the Giro is printed on the back of the cover insert, and is visible through the clear plastic case. Otherwise, there are no special features.

Final thoughts

The Giro d'Italia always promises a fun ride, and usually delivers handsomely on the promise. 2005 is no exception, giving us an exciting race with the maglia rosa contested among several strong contenders, several of whom had already proved themselves capable of winning the Giro. WCP's coverage of this year's Giro is excellent; it could have been tightened up just a little bit, but overall the five hours of racing here are full of interesting action. Highly recommended.

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