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Giro Di PEZ: A Morning In Innsbruck
Roadside St.7 It’s not every day, or every year, or every decade that a Grand Tour comes knocking on your front doorstep. For some reason, I drew the straw this year for that once in a lifetime opportunity: the Giro came to my town. Innsbruck, Austria is my home, and Innsbruck hosted the start of today’s Stage 7.

Like any good procrastinator, we still managed to arrive late…to a race start that was half a mile away. No worries, that whole find the press area to pick up the race creds thing is simple…ish. We set about looking for the gigantic, pink La Gazzetta RV that goes to all the big Italian races. Instead of the grand La Gazzetta pink RV though, we got a small, nondescript tent on the side of the road, and that, friends, took some serious detective work to find.

Ok, so Ashley didn’t ask them, but it would have been funny.

Ashley is of the mindset that everyone is worth asking when you don’t where you’re going. So we asked these little unruly schoolkids. They didn’t know, but they sure were happy to be out of school for the morning and wearing those godawful orange Skoda fishing hats.

The whole starting in Austria thing in the middle of the grand Alps with full-on German commentary definitely gave today’s start an, um, Austrian flair, but this fan was hell-bent on reminding us that this was not the Giro d’Austria.

You have your Italian flag? Austria counters with a Volksmusik band. Take that, Italy.

Davis was a reluctant chatter, but he obliged nonetheless.

Moving right along (still searching for the press tent mind you), Allan Davis rolled up to much attention. I think he was the first to sign on today. If I was a rider at the Giro, I’d always be the first to sign-on, I figure that way, the lead announcer would interview me everyday, because he really has nothing else to talk about at that point. Good call, Allan.

It was Stage 6 winner Michele Scarponi that pointed out the press tent. Not really, but that would have been cool.

Heading back away from the staging area, we found our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Phew. That was a load off of our proverbial shoulders. I felt distinctly unpro roaming around, scratching my head, hoping for the press tent to fall out of the sky, and smack me in the jaw (by the way, all credit for the discovery of the press tent goes to Ashley).

Riders weren’t terribly protected en route to the staging area. There was some car dodging to get into the herding area. That probably wouldn’t be the best publicity if a rider got hit en route to sign-in.

Filippo Pozzato came cruising by and graced us with his presence. I’m not a huge fan of ol Pippo, but that man sure is sweet, sweet, silky vanilla on a bike.

Why am I here in Innsbruck for the year? My girlfriend, Ashley, is studying at the University of Innsbruck, and I was lucky enough to join her. The program director, Margaret Davidson, and one of Ashley’s classmates, Chris Voelker, came out to enjoy the morning festivities. Want to live the good life for a year and do some studying/playing? Send Margaret an email! (That’s a super, top secret, hidden hyperlink)

We headed into the chaos of the staging area, and enjoyed the sites.

Michael Barry rolls by…all business this morning.

Jonas Ljungblad’s kit and bike definitely is definitely befitting of the Swedish champion.

This was Ashley’s first real exposure to a race start. She got quite the kick out of the experience. It’s fun to get that fresh perspective, and realize that this really is one of the coolest opportunities around.

At this point, the celebrities, I mean riders, started coming in thick and fast. Denis Menchov almost ran us over, as he tried to ease his way out of the fracas. He was more than gracious, and signed till his hand cramped. He couldn’t quite keep up with Jens Voigt though – that man has some speedy fingers.

Oh wait, hold the phone, there he is. Lance Armstrong rolled up looking nothing but business and serenaded to the tune of ‘Space Cowboy.’ I wish I was kidding. Armstrong is as close to a rock star as I’ve ever come.

Lance is one step closer to the take-over. Astana is out, the clothes were left in the dryer two hours too long (How did they get rid of that, but somehow the Livestrong and Trek logos made it through? Incredible). Bye bye Astana.

People were literally swooning as he passed. I saw a grown man turn away in hysterics as the great one rolled by. It’s utterly insane, nay, disturbing.

See all those people? They’re not looking at the ever-aggressive Jens Voigt, they’re in awe of seven Tours de France on stage in front of them.

Lance got some kind of award for being amazing.

Oh, and whilst the crowds swooned over Lance, the stars kept pouring in – Mauricio Soler rolled by looking dead serious. The start of a flat Giro stage is nothing to smile about.

I somehow missed Levi Leipheimer, but Chris Horner was more than happy to flash his trademark smirk/smile. I really have to interview this guy at some point. I have so many questions for him. Mr. Horner, if you’re reading this, give me a holler, please?

Ice cold Chris Horner.

The celebrity show stopped with Ivan Basso. He stopped right in front of me. He started talking in Italian. Some subconscious part of me swears I understood everything he says, but the conscious, dumb part of me, just wondered, what on earth is he talking about? Is he making fun of me?

After Basso and Lancimus rolled away, we grew disinterested with the entry to sign-in. Maybe it was because everyone had signed in. Who am I to know these things. The SaxoBank boys were congregated at the front, apparently not too interested in the Nordkette mountains behind (I stare at them through our bedroom window everyday). I liked em though, so I took a picture of them…and the mountains.

We kept on the mosey toward the old town’s cobbles and oldness, but first ran into David Zabriskie. He didn’t look too excited at the prospect of speaking, so we kept our distance and stole a picture.

Cameras ready? Ready!

We thought for a moment that we had that special shot of the old town of Innsbruck all to ourselves. I was incredulous at the oversight of all of the photographers, but then came the rumble of the motorbikes, and at least ten descended upon us. Oh well, it was ours for a moment.

See ya guys, have a good time out there…it’s only about 250 wet kilometers to Chiavenna.

After all of that, Ashley and I went for a bike ride. It was pretty. Too bad they missed all the cool riding around here. It’s too steep for them anyway.

Up next! The traveling circus of PEZ Coverage will descend upon Bergamo in the morning. Pez himself landed safely today, and is currently resting for our Austrian onslaught. We’ll be leaving at 4 in the morning to meet up with Pez for an 830 ride to take in the final 100k of tomorrow’s Stage 8. Keep it PEZ!

Comments? Happy? Angry? Tell me all about it: jered at pezcyclingnews dot com

For lots more pictures from today and much more, head to Flickr!


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