I joined the Giro today to pick up our coverage as the race enters Italy after 3 days and a transfer from Holland, and Gord’s as-always unique take of events. The only problem with Gord’s reports is that he sets the bar high, and the pressure is now on me.
The Liquigas boys laid down the day’s fast time, with Vincenzo Nibali enjoying the spoils as new maglia rosa. But that’s not what this story is about.
Since I’ve been in Italia with my family for the past 2-1/2 weeks, my current base camp is on the Ligurian coast – which meant book-ending my day with a 2+ hour drive. No worries though, the adrenaline was flowing as I made my way east and then north to today’s start town of Savigliano, where I picked up my race creds (always a good feeling) and met up with my old friend Mino – who always turns up to join me for at least one stage of the race. The fact that he’s Italian has helped numerous times, including today, when got us on course to follow the race – even though my ‘official’ car stickers were waiting for pick up at the finish line.
BMC’s Brent Bookwalter arrived at the team bus early, and was happy to sling a greeting for PEZ-Fans.
And driving the course is just about the best way to see a stage, as passing through the towns and villages where flows the lifeblood of this country, you get a glimpse of what real life Italians are like – pretty far removed from the fashion-focused stereotypes we know in North America.
The Giro’s publicity caravan rolled out of town promptly 1 hour before race start at 2:50 local time, and even without the ‘cranked to 11’ euro-pop blasting from everywhere, the town was pumped to see this race get rolling on home soil.
I spotted this new sponsor rolling through, but had amazingly missed their presence in the start village. Worry not – chasing this lead down is top of my list for the coming days.
Every year we can’t help but post the obligatory ‘cute-baby’ shot, and this year’s no different…except maybe we need to start a new category for ‘cute babies and moms’.
I bumped into photog-extraordinaire Graham Watson, lugging an armada of camera gear. Smiling for PEZ-fans, he called for rain later in the day…
Out onto the course, and our plan was to stop along the 33km course to Cuneo and watch the teams race by. Our first stop was Levaldigi – which could likely be a one-horse town… if they had a horse. But the tifosi were out in force. I’d wager most of these folks couldn’t tell a Cunego from Campagnolo, but no one seemed to care.
After trying to tee up the perfect race shot, I soon noticed that this place was full of far more interesting subject matter… and as I try to find some comments about these fans, it’s occurred to me that these images speak for themselves.
All you need is a plastic chair, a piece of curb, and you’re set.
Back onto the course and headed for our next stop – we got pummeled by the weather that’s been less than seasonable all week. Mr. Watson was right- and the rain storms have been rolling through with a fury I’ve rarely seen. This one lasted about 3 minutes, but delivered bucketsfull of the wet stuff, and a few hailstones. Here’s where you really don’t want to be riding a team time trial by yourself.
A couple kms further down the road and the sun was back out, but check out what’s behind us.
Sky came though looking strong, and although favoured to win, still scored second on the day, pulling back a few seconds for Wiggo’s GC hopes.
Not far ahead, the day’s finish town of Cuneo came into view, with the Alps setting about as majestic a background as I could imagine.
Only a couple of kms left, and the dropped riders are close enough to home. Still, the looks on their faces proved no one took it easy today.
It’s almost 8PM now, and the 2+ hours drive still ahead likely means I’ll be missing my daily negroni, and I could use a pizza about now. But what the hey- an awesome day… and I can get that negroni tomorrow.
Thanks for reading –
Ciao a domani –