I must say it has been probably my best experience in a Grand Tour. This was my 3rd participation in the Tour (6 times in the Giro and 5 in the Vuelta), but I enjoyed every day of it.
Dario founds his ‘jour sans’ on stage 15 in the Pyrenees.
Now let’s pick the best moments and the worst of the Tour.
The best moment as a rider, was to make it to the Champ Elysиes with Cadel in 2nd position in GC. Yes he had a great Tour, missing the first place for only 23 seconds and 1 stage win. He was a little unlucky because he did not manage to wear the Yellow Jersey but he got closer and closer to it. He also won the first time trial stage, after the disqualification of Vinokourov, but as he says, he did not get the misses’ kisses.
Nevertheless he did great things and must be proud of his achievement.
The team did a great job too, helping Cadel as much as everyone was capable and trying to keep him out of trouble. This was a very difficult task, especially in the first week, when everyone wass pushing to stay in the first positions and the organisers prefer to make us race on small roads, and leave the nice and big ones for the last stages. But I think he did a good job as he never crashed and we where in the first group, when Astana made it difficult in the wind.
Bringing your own chef – and Dario’s own olive oil – meant at least the food was good.
In nearly 4 weeks there was never a problem or an argument in the team, and also the personel was great with us all. We had our team cook, Albert, that made us feel at home, and saved us from eating the French food, serving us lots of pasta and pan cakes…
The best personal experience was the Tour start in London. First, because having English relatives on my mother’s side and being born nearby in Reading, it felt like being at home, then it was the first time my aunt, uncle and cousins came to see a bike race. Then the prologue course was phenomenal and there were so many people watching… not only in London, but also during the first stage it was difficult to find sections with no spectators… incredible especially in a non cycling country. I think I will remember those stages for all my life.
Chris Horner enjoys a special type of ‘pasta’.
And now let’s come to the down sides.
For me certainly the 2nd Pyrenean stage [Stage 15, Foix – Loudenville]. I had a mechanical soon after the start and was left chasing down the group after only 5Km. Using the team cars’ slip stream I got back to the tail of the group just under the first climb, 2nd cat, and I saw the group completely single file so I knew I was in trouble. I tried to gain a few positions but it is hard and I find my self dropped… by the peleton… on my own.
I knew I should not panic so start climbing on my own pace, get passed from a few team cars and am stable around the 8th-10th car. The judge is keeping an eye on me, but I will never hang on a car, just try to get some drafting… things look OK, I gain some positions up to the 3rd car but then the big names start attacking, I can not see them but I hear it on the team radio, so I know it is going to be hard.
Crossing the English Channel after stage 2.
I am completely flat but know I cannot give up. I lose positions again and slip into the 2nd cars and this means big trouble. But I catch a few more riders, all on their own and near the top I see a small gruppetto. I know if I can make it to them I will improve my situation from terrible to bad. Over the top I catch them, the group lets the break go and slows down, and we are back in the peloton. Good, but I am still afraid of the next climbs, but then my legs are better, so I can make it over 3 climbs in the group and on the 2nd to last I am happy to wait for the gruppetto. And yes, I made it to the finish…
The worst personal moment of the Tour was when we arrive to this Campanile Hotel, lower 2 stars cat, and know it is usually quite bad. But in my entire life I never had to sleep with cockroaches, and I am sorry this happens at the Tour, as the race organisers think they are the best race in the World. Well if you want to be the best, you should not make the riders sleep in such bad places, just because they are cheap. I did not enjoy that accommodation and was afraid to be woken up by some guests in my bed. We were lucky with had our own cook, so the food was OK. It is a pity the ASO only thinks about themselves sleeping in nice places and leave the low cost hotels to the teams…
Presently I am doing a few post tour criteriums with Cadel, but I will tell you about this next time.
• See Dario’s personal website: CioniDario.com
• Buy some of Dario’s own Olive Oil: DarioCioni.com
• See the official team website: Davitamon-Lotto.com
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