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Giro d'Italia to offer prize for the quickest descender; people are sceptical

Joseph Delves
2 May 2017

Safety fears mean announcement goes down like a lead balloon

In the not too distant past it was considered bad form to attack your rivals on the descents. However, in the past few years that’s all changed. Now descending is recognised as a crucial skill and a legitimate way to take or make up time, not an excuse for broadcasters to cut to the adverts. Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Sagan are all noted descenders whose skills on downhill sections make for both thrilling and nerve racking viewing.

So with both the climbers and the sprinters already having their own competition, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to offer something similar for the descenders.

The recently released handbook for the upcoming Giro d'Italia contained the announcement that this year's race would provide just that.

Sponsored by tyre maker Pirelli, the descender's competition will consist of 10 timed segments, each with points available, the cumulative total of which will result in a prize awarded at the race’s culmination in Milan.

While certainly exciting for the fans, giving the riders additional encouragement to push on downhill has met with mixed reactions. Given the inherent dangers of descending most of the reaction has so far been negative.

Former pro Matt Goss commented: 'Giro has some of the worst descents in cycling. With the serious injuries and worse in some cases recently how can they even consider this!'

Matrix Pro Cycling team manager Stefan Wyman was similarly unimpressed; 'I've seen some stupid shit in my time in cycling, but this must be close to taking the biscuit' before adding that the 'downhill prize in Giro is €500 per hill plus a GC of €10,000.

'Total of €15,000. Women's Giro overall GC winner in 2016 received €1,050. Ouch.'

Other twitter users cited the examples of previous, although thankfully still fairly rare, fatalities as a reason to oppose the development.

With following the final climb with a mad decent down to the finish line having become a favourite tactic of race organisers hoping to build excitement into their parcours, and the fact that descending necessarily already plays a key part in the dynamic of any hilly race, many thought there was already enough potential for riders to show their skills without the added incentive of an additional competition.

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