It was late when we got off that mountain last night; the barrier and clean up crews were hard at work on the aftermath of Carlos’s day’s work as we headed back to the Peugeot. We had to take the strade bianche off the mountain – the barrier crews had the actual race route blocked, whilst they did their thing.
Ale’s home town of Fano was our base for two nights; the Hotel Astoria became Hotel Pez for our stay.
We noted that whilst Fano was alive into the small hours; the locals weren’t so clever at getting up in the morning!
After breakfast it was south towards Silvi Marina and the rest day hotels – we had riders to pester! The temperature climbed as we headed south and at one stage, we had 40 degrees on the car computer.
We spied a couple of Barloworlds out for a ‘piano’ rest day run. It was Chris Froome and John-Lee Augustyn – the latter playfully tried to run me over as I took his picture.
‘The Hermitage’ was easy to spot with the Silence-Lotto, Katusha* and ISD buses parked outside – the Russian bus is cool, but not as cool as the ISD bus with it’s huge image of a ‘lovely’ on the side.
Before we met up with the riders, we had the customary look around the buses. It was “sun dried helmets”* at Silence-Lotto and Gilbert looked cheery enough, despite his squadra’s lack lustre Giro.
Their Canyons were tottin’ some mighty big cogs – Blockhaus looms!
And there was our boy, Dario lookin’ super cool and ready to be Pezzed in an hour or two.
Over at Diquigiovanni, Gibo Simoni was chatting to the mechanics – it hasn’t been a good Giro so far for the former two time winner; something that La Gazzetta doesn’t let him forget. Blockhaus? Vesuvio? We hope so, the sport needs off the wall riders like Gibo.
Interview time; Rubens Bertogliati bounds across the hotel lobby – he doesn’t have the lazy, energy saving gait of most pros. Despite 16 stages in the baking heat, including eight hours yesterday, he looks fresh, alert – great, in fact!
We ask how many Grand Tours he’s ridden: “Four Tours, three Giros and one Vuelta. For me, as a Swiss, the Tour is most important because the eyes of the world are upon it. But I like the ambience at the Giro. The Vuelta? One time I rode a mountain stage in the Vuelta, which finished in France – at the finish were twelve people; and two of those were my mother and father!
Does it get any easier? “Yes, a little because you learn how to race Grand Tours. You must recover well and save energy. On the stage to Bologna, I gave everything and this takes a lot of recovering from. You must become calculating.
Cinque Terre? “Really hard! I rode the 66 K time trial in the 2001 Tour but this was much harder, you found a rhythm on the first climb, then it was the dangerous descent and then it was time to climb again, very hard. It was like being in a solo break – but for everyone!
We ask about his 160 K epic break to Bologna, “I knew that the Bologna and Faenza stages would be good for breakaways. The day went well and the end was spectacular; even though I didn’t win. Everyone worked well together in the escape, there was harmony.
Gerrans was strongest, I could see he had good legs. I had good legs too; perhaps I made an error, but I decided to keep my rhythm going from the run in, I looked back and had 50 metres, so I kept going. I couldn’t hold Gerrans on the steepest part, although I came back at him when it levelled off.
Stage 15 was good for the team too, “Leonardo Bertagnolli, who won for us, lives in that area; that’s a big advantage, he knows the roads. Strange things happened with Pauwels from Cervelo having to drop back for Sastre and leave our rider on his own – but Leonardo was very happy that they did!
We ask about the heat, “It’s a strange Giro – so hot! I rode two years ago and five years ago, but it was never as hot as this; it’s like the Tour in July. I drank nearly 20 bottles today, at the end, the team cars had none left!
It was the gruppetto for him, yesterday, “I joined the gruppetto on the Nerone, I prefer to stay with smaller, rather than larger groups, there’s more air – in big groups, it’s hard to breath. Petacchi usually organises things, but he was in the group behind.
Sastre? “His win was a little bit surprising; I saw him on the Nerone and he didn’t look like he was having his best day. But he always goes well in the heat. Menchov, has he won? “It’s hard for the others to attack him, he’s so good at defending a lead. And then if he needs it, he has the time trial in Rome, to pull time back.
Lancemania? “All the press and fans look for him, he gets stronger every day. One of my team mates was telling me that Lance had the legs to go with the leaders, yesterday but he waited for Leipheimer.
And will there be more Bertogliati breaks, before the end? “I hope so! My friends in California look out for me on Pez, they call me “Commanche” because they never know when I will attack!
So you just do these interviews to keep your buddies in California posted? “Yes, of course!
Ah! Those pros! Blockhaus tomorrow, ciao, ciao !