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Giro d’Italia 2017: positive tests and botched awards spark fresh controversy

When the race’s 100th edition gets under way on Friday on some of cycling’s most spectacular stages, Nairo Quintana is expected to thrive, but the buildup has been as chaotic and colourful as ever

This week, the buildup to the 100th Giro d’Italia was dominated by controversy over a putative prize for the fastest descender. The award based on timed sections off the toughest climbs was announced on Monday, drawing a welter of adverse comment – it came days after the death of an American rider, Chad Young, in a high-speed downhill crash in the Tour of the Gila. The award was withdrawn on Wednesday.

Put into the context of the previous 99 races, the controversy did not surprise. While the Tour de France is the more conservative elder brother, the Giro has always flirted with the bounds of the possible: starting on the other side of Europe – not just Belfast in 2014, but Belgium in 1973 – or running a time trial through Venice with ramps taking the riders over the canals, let alone using Alpine passes that are barely surfaced at a time when the weather at altitude is still uncertain. On occasion the innovations are a huge success, as in the case of the inclusion of the dirt roads of Tuscany in 2010.

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