It’s fitting that this 194km burner would start by one race track, in Mugello, and end near another in Fiorano Modenese.
The gates of the legendary Ferrari factory in Maranello…home of the world’s fastest motor cars, and for today only, the world’s best bike racers. The Giro passed right in front of these gates, on the way to a pair of spins around the factory test track.
Drool all you like…this Formula One show car is sits in the Ferrari souvenir shop. It’s kind of it like Cipollini, but with four wheels…fast, fancy…and retired from racing.
The two wheel boys flew past the factory and around the track while the rest of us waited and wallowed in the Italian ambience that only the Giro can provide.
How’s this for a press lunch…tortellini, grilled fish in a nice red sauce and fresh bread. I guarantee…you don’t get an all-you-can-eat spread like this at races in America.
And the races back home aren’t blessed by a Padre with a pass. “Bless me father, for I have sinned. I eat too much at lunch, and I take too many pictures of beautiful Italian women.”
So, was it heaven or hell out there on the roads today? Well, it depends on who you ask. Pez fave Dario Cioni was absolutely wasted after all his work today. He told me, “For me, it seemed the hardest stage up to now. We went at a fast pace for the first 60k, and we never settled down. It was all day a headwind.“
You can see the pain and sufferin’ written on Dario’s face. He was hammered after sticking with the 20-man break for most of the day.
And speaking of hammered…we were hustling to get out of everybody’s way at the finish line roll-out, and all of a sudden somebody rammed their helmet-head right into my back. What the hell? I whipped around to see CSC’s Dave Zabriskie grinning from ear to ear. “I hope I hurt you,” he chuckled, “Yeah, I may be hurt,” I replied, “but you’re gonna feel it back when you DNF with a stiff neck tomorrow!”
So, Dave…what’s the deal? Why are you joking around, when all the guys who rode up front are wasted?
“It’s so easy here. Nice weather…the Giro…Italy…it’s just easy.”
So, Dave, will you go for it later in the Giro and try to win a stage? “Yeah, I’ll try, ‘cuz the financial rewards are amazing.”
Dave Z was also happy ‘cuz CSC team mate Kurt-Ale Arvesen outsprinted Paolo Bettini for the win. “Yeah, well, he’s a loser and we’re winners. Winners win races and losers lose.”
Check out the difference between first and second place. Paolo is pooped…
…while Kurt-Ale is all smiles as he gets a double-barrel peck on the cheek from the lovely podium girls.
And Kurt-Ale brought his own cheering section today. His lovely Scandinavian wife was right there at the end, wishing and hoping her man to victory.
“We were watching the race in a bar about 500 meters from the finish, so I saw them pass, then I run inside to see the finish on TV. Then we were just jumping and screaming.“
So, at the end of the day, Arvesen finally tastes victory in this year’s Giro…poor Paolo Bettini is second again…and Marco Pinotti is still in pink. But…
Poor ol’ Pinotti has got to work on his post-race champagne popping. He smacked himself right in the face with the cork today, and then sprayed the bubbly right into his own eyes. That’s gotta hurt…
So we say a fast farewell to Firorano and Ferrari…but before we sign-off today…
…this is what happens when my trusty driver/translator Mario Lucchesi and I get roped into posing for a pic at the Giro expo. Nice, eh?
We’re back on the road from Reggio Emilia to Lido di Camaiore tomorrow…vive el sogno!