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Giro 07
Giro Di PEZ: From Start To Finish
As the Giro begins its 6th day, the routine of finding the start, chasing the race, seeing the finish and filing a story remains elusively – and thankfully – anything but ‘routine’. As travelers in a strange land, our simple plan of book-ending a story from ‘villagio partenza’ to ‘finito’ proves the kind of entertainment money can’t buy…

It’s our first stage start since the burning heat and prehistoric ruins of Barumini on Sardinia – that seems a long time ago now. We’re in Teano, or rather the outskirts of this dusty, largely concrete-built, uninspiring little town. The crowds are bigger than in Sardinia and the traffic-jams worse. On the up-side, the Giro village buffet is almost, but not quite, at Tour standards – Dave’s not sure about that pig’s head on the table though.

The Giro village follows the race around the whole route, build-up, strip-down, lug it a couple of hundred kilometres and repeat 21 times. The Tour village is always a good place to catch the riders for a quote before the race, they gather there to escape the public, chat, drink free coffee and ogle the publicity girls. At Teano there were a heck of a lot of cops in there too – doing exactly the same as the riders.

Imagine putting that together and taking it down…everyday…for three weeks.

There might be more cops than bikers at the Giro.

It’s all chillaxin and easiness for the riders before the race.

There’s a whole car park dedicated to the publicity caravan; the Giro may be about tradition and heroic deeds, but it’s real job is to sell things to people – not the ‘door step, hard-sell’ but ‘product awareness’ that sneaks into your sub-conscious. All those team and caravan sponsors aren’t in the game because it doesn’t work. Products being promoted this year include banking, cars, central heating, cheese, radio stations, salami, sat-nav, water and, of course, the Giro itself.

Mmmm, doesn’t that just look delicious.

One of the banks, this year has 1966 Giro winner, Gianni Motta; 1988 world pro road race champion Maurizio Fondriest and campionissimo, Francesco Moser following the whole race and ‘pressing the flesh’ for them. Motta is recognised by older people, Fondriest is pretty-much anonymous but Moser is still a star and much in demand for pics with the wife/kid/friend.

Talking of car parks, there’s one for the team cars and buses with exactly the same guys on duty for the whole race to guide the big brutes into sometimes very awkward spots. Today they are on a sun-baked, ash football pitch. The trucks go directly to the finish, there’s enough congestion with buses and cars.

The publicity caravan rolls-out around an hour before the race; then it’s time for the riders signing-on to keep the fans amused. After they sign-on it’s back to the bus or into the village, pronto, to kill the time until the shift starts.

The race no sooner rolls than the riggers are at work, stripping the village down and loading it onto trucks. The team buses roll as soon as the team cars have cleared the start area. They don’t follow the race route, rather the fastest route to the finish – this is marked in the race handbook. Today the race heads north towards Rome on a traditional ‘sprinters’ stage route.

A few minutes late to see the Zero Kilometer banner.

Meanwhile we’re heading for the autostrada with the team buses. As we try to clear Teano the riggers are dropping the inflatable, ‘kilometre zero’ arch – just another one of the 1001 things that have to be done on every Giro stage.

If you can’t race your bike, might as well race your bus.

The bus drivers have the same competitive instincts as the riders they carry and the behemoths pass and re-pass at speeds well-over the legal limit.

Bike interlude – check out the new SRAM gruppo – the Red. It’s supposed to blow the Force group out of the water…and it’s a damn fine set of bike componentry.

Ok, one more pic – Simoni’s front end.

* * *

Frascati, 19.00, you have good days, you have bad days. We had planned to catch the finish and try and get the immediate post-race-take to go with the pre-race view. However, the wi-fi in the press room and my laptop just couldn’t see eye-to-eye; most of the afternoon evaporated in a fug of hassle and frustration until we finally hard-wired the Sharp to the system so I could get my morning pics off.

The TV monitors showed me what you saw, as I glanced-up from the cyber-hell I was in; Forster surprising everyone; Hushovd frisky; Petacchi pouting, despite taking the points jersey back; Nibali still in the white jersey as ‘the future of Italian cycling’ and Di Luca pretty in pink for another day.

Try keeping those things organized. I can’t even keep my computer cord un-knotted.

We headed-out to grab some pics, to the clang of light-weight aluminium scaffold and fencing being dismantled all around us. The village, the tribune, all the fencing and all that wire has to get packed-away. A rigger ducks my camera, he’s probably ‘on the sick’ from his real job. It doesn’t take long for the first trucks to roll.

Get yer Giro-wear! For 5 euros (at least that’s how much it was a couple years ago) – you get a tshirt, a hat, and an odd little necklace thing. Sweet.

Destination, Tivoli and the same thing all-over tomorrow as the Giro rolls-on. Governments, champions and laptops come and go – but yes, the Giro rolls-on.


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