It’s not all chatting up the podium babes, snapping race pics and toasting the day with negronis – But then again, nobody said being a glass-is-half-full kinda guy was easy. And for every half-full glass of vino, grappa, and espresso I’ve tasted on this Giro, there’s been a recycling bin full of the “half-empty’s”.
But I’m not here to grouse about that – and it’s the highlights of each day that make the journey worthwhile.
My day started well enough – a 630 wakeup call from the church bell that chimed out the hours all through the night…, but the skies were clear and the sun was shining – and breakfast was enjoyed on the ‘terrazza’.
Plan A was to drive to the start in Cuneo, take in the villaggio festivities, then head to the coast. Why I even bother with a Plan A is a question I may never have an answer to… unless it’s simply to lead me to Plan’s B, C, D…..
The two lane back roads from Pinerolo were slow at best, and after being stopped by a road closure just kms short of Cuneo, I found the back way into town, arriving just in time to see the riders line up, and Lance being chased to the start by another last minute interview.
The clear blue skies made the majesty of the Alps seem even closer as the race rolled out for their 6+ hour ride to Cuneo.
After another 45 minutes navigating the roads and traffic back towards Pinerolo, I moved along to Plan C, and charted a course for the coast and the Passo Turchino – the climb made famous in the early days of Milan-San Remo, and on tap for stage 11’s selector just 20km from the stave end in Arenzano.
Onto the Autostrada and into 5th gear, 160kmh looked mighty fine after being stuck behind local farming equipment. I made the coast in good time, peeling into Arenzano at 11:30 and in time for a seaside lunch.
Things were decidedly more ‘tranquillo’ here – a warm Ligurian breeze, palm trees, and the beach.
But there’s no mistaking the Giro is coming to town, with the usual – yet always different – array of local decorations in full effect.
And every town in Italy has its own Giro hero – proudly displayed for all to see. And I forgot to get this name… sorry folks.
The prosciutto & funghi pizza – a Giro staple for me – did the trick as I sourced my maps for the route to the Turchino.
As this was my first time to the famous climb, there was no way I could pass up the chance to take a look. The clock was ticking though, so today’s inspection was from inside the car, and not by bike as I sorely wished.
We spend a lot of time looking at the climbs that make our sport famous – but too often overlook the most fun part of any climb – the going downhill fast part.
After yesterday’s brake-pad burner off Pra Martino, the Turchino descent offers up one of the tastiest drops I’ve seen and not ridden. The grades are in the 5-7% range, with countless switchbacks and curves – but these are the kind to be savoured – at high speed.
The famous tunnel at the top is a one laner – safely controlled via ‘semaforo’. I waited for it to turn green and made my way into the historic portal. Taking some snaps at the traditional race entrance, I saw yet another of the many cyclists on the climb today. He was more than happy to serve as ‘model’ for this shot.
One of my favorite passages in Italy is the drop across this mountain range to the Mediterranean Sea – the moment those waters come into view never fails to impress.
And there’s more than one way to check out this climb, as the many bus stops displayed.
It’s now 7PM local time – and I’ve been told by my hotel that the internet here ‘might not work’… guess we’ll know soon enough. So in case I need to hit the streets in search of the local internet cafй, I’ll sign off, and report back tomorrow.
Ciao and thanks for reading -!