Seven days of scenery and stories have finally come to an end. Much to my dismay, my week of covering the Giro is over, and it’s time to go back to California. But before I sign-off from Italia, there are a bunch of things that I’ve wanted share with all you PEZ-Fans out there… these are bits that didn’t make it into our daily reports, but they’re all a part of the whole Giro experience.
We had dinner with the Tinkoff team on Thursday, then followed Tinkoff’s Pavel Brutt in the brutal uphill TT the next day. In our post-dinner story, we included a shot of Salvatore Commesso showing us that he’s on a “see-food” diet. To be honest, I was a bit concerned that some of the Tinkoff guys might get upset by that picture.
Nope… not Commesso. My translator Mario showed the pic to Salvatore on the PEZ site the next day, and he loved it. Check out that smile. Nice. The whole Tinkoff squad was great… they gave us full access. I hope we see ‘em again at the Tour de France.
The guys from LAS Helmets hooked us up with the Tinkoff team. So in return, we hooked LAS’s Giorgio Zanardi up with Ivan Basso’s sister Elisa at the start of the TT in Biella. I think Giorgio is enjoying this a lot more than Elisa.
Paolo Bettini hit the ground in the big pile-up at the finish in Pinerolo on Thursday, but his team radio saved him from serious injury. This is amazing. Bettini was one of the first to hit the deck, and the peloton was right behind him. Somebody’s chain ring hit Paolo right in the back, but the teeth of the gear dug into the radio that was in Paolo’s jersey pocket. Quick.Step boss Patrick Lefevere told me that the radio was munched, and if it hadn’t been there, the gears would have dug right into Paolo’s spine. Yeow. Bettini kept the ruined radio…he says he’s going to put it in his museum.
Speaking of crashes…we had a small “incident” with the PEZ-mobile in a parking lot in Pinerolo. Mario munched a bit of the lower part of the front bumper, and the rental companies hate that. So, we stopped into the local Alfa dealer, and one of their mechanics covered the boo-boo with a bit of touch-up paint. It looked good as new…the rental car company will never know – unless they’re PEZ-Fans too.
Mother Nature has been pretty cooperative in Italy. For the most part, the weather has been good for this year’s Giro. There have been some on-and-off showers this week, but no major downpours. Still, even a bit of rain can be a pain if you’re on your bike for five hours.
Kurt-Asle Arvesen found a unique way to help keep the raindrops out of his eyes. He sliced the top off his CSC hat, and improvised a visor to go under his helmet. Hey, whatever works, right?
We ran into Kurt’s brother Stig on Friday night in Como. He was leading a pack a people, including Kurt’s lovely wife, who were still celebrating Kurt’s win in the stage that ended on Sunday in Fiorano Modenese. Take it from me…never try to hang with a guy who’s been partying for five nights. Stig is a pro at this…the rest of us are just amateurs.
We bumped into Dave Zabriskie before the start in Cantu. You’d think that, just a few minutes before the beginning of a day in the saddle at the Giro, he’s be thinking about the course and the race ahead, right? Not Dave Z. “Don’t you know that when you come to these European races you’re supposed to bring me Peet’s coffee from California?” OK, Dave…in July, we’ll bring the Peet’s to the Tour. Ethiopian blend, on a #4 grind. You got it.
It’s been an amazing week. We covered much of the northern half of the country in the PEZ-mobile (the best-looking car in the press peleton, by the way). My trusty driver/translator Mario and I managed to sneak-in a handful of rides, too. Many thanks to Mario’s friends at two great bike shops…Kulmine in Bozzano (www.kulmine.it) and Tarducci Cicli in Viareggio. They supplied us with a Bianchi and a Cannondale for the week and a bunch of swag from their shops. If you’re ever in and around the Lucca area, check ‘em out…and tell ‘em you know Mario Lucchesi.
Finally, one scene really captured the week. There’s an old church that sits on the hill above the town of Cantu. Down below, the chaos of a Giro stage start clogged the streets of the city.
But above the chaos of the Giro, it’s life as usual. On this day, a young Italian couple tied the knot in their wedding ceremony, then came out on the church steps to take in the sights of the race. The pink canopies of the Giro expo seemed to fit right in with the festivities of the wedding.
Even the flower girls were wearing the traditional colors of the Giro.
So, with that final image, I say ciao to Italia and the people, the places, and the passion of the Giro. Mr. PEZ himself will show you all the sights of the final week of racing.
We’ll be back here in Como for the Giro d’Lombardia this fall, and another opportunity to Vive il sogno.