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Giro di Pez: Epic Day On Galibier
ROADSIDE St.15: Cesana Torinese – Galibier/ We can’t stay without bad weather at the Giro 2013, so a storm of snow just hit us when the race passed at 3km to the finish where me and my friend Salvo waited for the maglia rosa. But a part of that the day has been fantastic with perfect weather and the snow moment just added an epic touch.

Just after the race passage the blue of the sky is back.

When me and Salvo waked up this morning after a long night of rain we realized how cool was the place we found at very last moment for sleep. We were very close to an old castle, one of the many that you can find inside Susa Valley. Now, few words about Salvo (Salvatore), my friend that is driving me in these two mountain stages of the Giro; we are good friends, our daughters are studying in the same school, in the same class and our “Saturday coffee time” at the bar on the beach is a sort of permanent appointment we have.

The beautiful morning from our B&B (inside a castle yard).

Ale's accomplice - Salvo.

So it was a surprise for me when he asked to come with me at the Giro; because I know he was totally unaware of the kind of issue he was going to experience. “Let’s go” – I finally agreed and we planned this week end together. Something I have to admit is that both of us have hidden the adventure to our wives, claiming some special job requirement out of the town. They (wives) are not Pezcycling readers and we both hope they won’t pass to the cycling fever now.

A fast passage of the Giro just after the departure.


Today’s plan was easy: a look to the start, a fast passage and the finish on the Col du Galibier. The morning was fantastic after a long night of rain. A look to Twitter confirmed the original route including the final climb till 4km to the tunnel. Despite the good weather it was really cold in Cesana and all the riders were sitting in the buses with few chances to watch them.

We decided to move to the first kilometers of race, to have a nice view of the race; we spotted a passage and then we moved to Galibier. Also on the French side the weather was not bad. Saint Jean de Maurienne, than right side and starts the longest climb you can imagine.

At Plan Lachat; there’s no way to discuss with Gendarmerie.

Switchbacks after switchback we went in the town of Valloire where the RCS organized the finish village. We moved on and we arrived at 8-9km to the finish when some official stopped us. Road closed. No chance to proceed even with our press pass; it seemed we need another special pass that RCS is distributing in Valloire, 3km before at finish headquarter. But we cannot go there because the road is closed downstream. Not even time to panic when a familiar voice calls me out.

Jered and Ashley saved us with the special pass.

It’s Jered and Ashley Gruber, my good road-friends and Pez friend too working as photographers for RCS. They have the pass and they propose to make a car all together and proceed. Wow, we are on the wave once again.


Now the valley opens to the sun and Salvo is particularly caught by the scene. I feel he is enjoying the cyclo-week-end and I’m happy to be here with him. Coming into Plan Lachat another block, another barrier. But this time there is few to discuss; the Gendarmerie has no words except for “ne pas possible”.

That’s the plan B, which is much more dangerous than pass from the road close for safety reason.

A good view of switchbacks below; the weather is still very good.

Well, it’s just 3,5km to the finish and it’s great, so we decide to proceed by foot. But no. Once more the Gendarmerie surprises us and doesn’t allow us to move forward on the road. We complain but nothing. “Orders from above”; well these orders are little bit curious and also stupid, because there’s a load of people shortcutting a few hundred meters below through a very dangerous passage.



I complain once more – “Sir, I know it’s a stupid order but it’s still an order and we have to observe it” – the young Gendarme replies to my words and I’m more surprised by the good English from a French policeman than by the answer. So, we also have to climb the mountain through the snow and the stones. But finally we get into the right position, which is about 2km to go.



The weather till now has been fine, but we must suffer till the end and a fast snow storm hits the mountain just before the race passage. The official motos come and there’s a sort of excitement all over the people that were waiting for hours. A man alone, Giovanni Visconti, coming from Sicily, from Palermo, the same city where Salvo born. Did he bring to the co-citizen some luck?

Nibali (another Sicilian) seems to be in good control of the race and all the others coming later have really bad faces. But the snow has reached its top during the maglia rosa passage and step by step the clouds become thinner and finally, on the way down, a sunset light filters through the highest peaks.



At the time I’m writing this report we are on the way back home. Salvo is driving and this is a really fantastic addition to my trip. Usually I have to stop in some Autogrill to do the same work I’m doing in the car launched to the Adriatic coast. I do not know if Salvo is going to be back with me sometime more. I feel he enjoyed the adventure and there will be time to remember all these hours passed together chasing the Giro like boys. Old boys. But never quite, even against the snow storms.



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