It’s another hot day on the coast, and although the haze seemed to cloud the sun, it was baking on the seaside strip of soft sand and beach clubs where Italians spend their summers. The miles of ‘pay for play’ clubs weren’t busy today, but there was plenty of action on the long pier at famous Lido.
The sign-on was at the very end of the pier, and what looked like a TT starthouse was just a very long gauntlet for riders to add their official mark to the stage’s start list. The fans loved it, as did the sponsors, and the ever-goofy Skoda hats were a big hit under the hot sun.
Each stage start is celebrated by releasing a big ‘ol bunch of those pink balloons. And no doubt, the guy who got that balloon contract is laughing all the way to the bank.
While I was sweating from just walking around, this guy was celeste-blue cool in his wool kit and ‘Eroica’ era bike. If this is any sign that old Italian cyclists are tough, then this guy is top of the heap.
I recorded another of my almost daily “Cipo-Sightings”, as he was being mobbed by fans in the start village, and although he never gets more than 3 steps without pausing for a photo or autograph, he takes it all in stride. (ie: loves every minute of it). At yesterday’s TT start, the Lion King almost tripped on his own tongue when a beautiful woman walked by … his lack of discretion would have been considered comedic in many parts of the world… but this is Italy, and the women love the game as much as the men.
Turning to dogs of a different kind, someone thought it was a good idea to sausage this poor pooch into a pink t-shirt. I’m sure that was comfortable. At least someone gave this way too hot dog a drink of water to cool him down.
The stage was set to start at around 1PM, and just like everyday, the caravan rolled through and out an hour ahead. The appeal of riding the entire route of a grand tour, with over-amped euro-pop blasting all around is lost on me, but I suppose that appeals to the kids these days… (Okay I admit- I’m turning into my dad. And I’m okay with that.)
Regardless, there’s always something to look at…
Like the precisely arranged police motos that guide the riders through the day’s towns and villages. Speaking of hot, these moto guys must run a few degrees cooler than the rest of us… I don’t know how else they could survive those moto suits.
I rolled out of town well ahead of the race, and by tomorrow there’ll be little sign this was here, but for now it’s the biggest show in town, and everyone gets into it.
Lunch With Felice
While grabbing a roadside lunch of risotto and verdura grilliate at the Autogrill just outside of Florence, I was stunned when the distinguished signor wearing the orange Skoda polo turned around – none other than the great Felice Gimondi was settling down to the table right next to me… ! I was amazed that he was by himself, but he’s obviously still very well known in Italy, as customers around the room stared at the ex-Giro, Tour, Vuelta, Worlds ++ champion.
I’d left my camera in the car, but mustered up some courage and my best Italian accent, and tentatively introduced myself and asked permission for a couple questions for PEZ… I certainly didn’t want to disturb his lunch, but he did say he thinks the Giro is now between Di Luca, Menchov and Leipheimer, and he agreed that yesterday’s TT was ‘molto dura’. Hey – I know this isn’t the most in depth interview I’ve ever done, but come on – I was talking to Felice Gimondi!
Ciao and thanks for reading –