Sheree brings us her written, photo and audio diary from her trip to the Giro this week.
I’ve been in north-east Italy to watch stages 10-12 of the Giro d’Italia, which are handily grouped in an area of outstanding beauty, significant historical interest, loads of vineyards and, most importantly, the Dolomites. We arrived on Sunday evening to discover we were sharing our hotel with the leggy hostesses from a number of the Giro’s sponsors – my husband’s eyes lit up! On Monday, I enjoyed the Giro’s first rest day by riding around the countryside but the only team I saw out in the warm sunshine was Cannondale, who made my day when they called out “Ciao Bella!” Italians are sooooo charming.
Stage 10 started just up the road in Cordenons. I didn’t need my GPS. I just followed the ribbons of pink balloons and bows. The Italians really know how to get into the spirit of the Giro with pretty much every shop and house en route welcoming the race. I parked the car and scouted out the village which was already packed with enthusiastic spectators over two hours before the stage start. I really liked that the organisers had united the start village and sign-on podium, thereby expanding the public’s viewing possibilities.
Unfortunately, my in-house photographer was working to fund my cycling addiction so, let loose with his camera, I took aim and clicked wildly in the hope of catching someone or something in the viewfinder. My pictures won’t win any prizes but I hope they convey a little of what happens at the start of a stage.
Eschewing the village, my next stop was the team buses. I was a girl with a plan. I avoided those with the leading riders, as everyone wants to interview them.
The Spanish teams are mobbed during their home races but excite less interest in Italy. I had decided to stake out Euskaltel’s bus with a view to grabbing a word with one of their riders. Sadly not Samuel Sanchez but he did obligingly descend from the bus half-dressed and displaying some scary tan lines. But while I was waiting something else caught my eye: Samu’s using Osymetric rings!
As I always say, persistence pays dividends, and after a patient 30-minute wait, I bagged my interview with Egoi Martinez, a day ahead of his 35th birthday.
Job done, I headed back to the start for a few more photographs. There’s usually a period of about 20-30 minutes of hanging around before the race starts when it’s easy to have a word with the riders, grab an autograph or a photo.
Today’s stage started at a ski station close to the Austrian and Slovenian borders. I arrived early and struck up conversation with Mario Mariuzzo, one of Cannondale’s direttore sportive, while waiting for my quarry to arrive. I didn’t take FDJ up on their offer of a coffee – instead I interviewed Francis Mourey, their best placed rider on GC, who’d animated the race the previous day and is probably better known as a cyclo-crosser.
Yesterday I’d bumped into Lionel Marie, directeur sportif at Orica-GreenEDGE, who was next on my dance card. He wheeled out fresh-faced Jens Keukeleire – that name’s a tongue-twister – who proved to be a delightfully chatty interviewee.
The buses were parked some way from the start village so I headed back down the hill intent on getting a few words for our editor-in-chief Tim from his man-crush, Mark Cavendish who kindly obliged with more than a little twinkle in his eye and a big smile on his face. [Gotta love Cav. Thanks Sheree! – Ed]
Further interviews were rendered futile by the Giro’s deafening PA system pumping out a selection of hits from yesteryear. I went back to taking photos of the riders enjoying a few last minutes of reflection and relaxation before the start.
I’m wondering if Koen De Kort has just received word that Kitty’s going to be interviewing him on Sunday and he’s considering following Fabian‘s advice to take out a restraining order. Meanwhile, teammate Patrick Gretsch is figuring out how to get into a break on today’s stage.
This trio from Ag2r – left to right Domenico Pozzovivo, Carlos Betancur and Davide Apollonio – were in a sombre mood and contemplating life for a while without teammate Sylvain Georges.
Make way, make way, maglia rosa coming through … the waiting peloton parts. Well, he’s not known as The Shark for nothing!
Ryder Hesjedal‘s perhaps passing a few words of advice to Robert Gesink or maybe explaining what caused him to lose so much time on yesterday’s stage.
Oh look there’s Christian Knees trying to sort out teammate Xabier Zandio‘s radio: testing eins, zwei, eins, zwei …
Reach for your sunglasses – it’s a Vini Fantini rider and that kit really is astonishingly, eye-wateringly bright. Check out the leopard print shoes in the bottom left quadrant – a Bet Lynch moment! [A character from the British soap Coronation Street who favoured leopard print – Ed.]
No mountain start or finish in the Giro would be complete without the Alpini and their budgie feather hats. Boys, how about a little Bon Jovi?
Then I raced to the car, gunned the engine and set off in hot pursuit of the peloton and the finish.
Day three, stage 12 and, as promised, after three gloriously sunny days the rain was back in abundance on what was going to be a thankfully short stage. Early tweets from the press pack looked ominous.
Great weather for a bike race … if you’re a duck; howling winds, buckets of rain – view from hotel window: twitter.com/EuroHoody/stat…
— Andrew Hood (@EuroHoody) May 16, 2013
Rain update! Officially never personally seen sustained rain like it. Will be epic if they race. TV pictures uncertain. #giro
— Daniel Lloyd (@daniellloyd1) May 16, 2013
I broke out my wet weather gear – pink, of course, in honour of the Giro – and headed out! It was a tricky drive as my Smart’s small and chunky – a bit like its owner – and doesn’t respond well to strong wind and torrential rain. I was agonisingly close to the start when I encountered a road block guarded by one of Italy’s finest. I was expecting my car’s press accreditation to work its usual ‘open sesame’ magic. I was sorely disappointed. Despite my pleas, he wasn’t to be budged and, as this was the only road up to the start, I conceded defeat. Having been a DNS (did not start), I was keen not to be a DNF (did not finish). I turned the car around and headed to the finish.
Realistically, it’s always tricky trying to photograph and/or interview the riders when the weather’s bad. Not unnaturally, they try to stay in the dry for as long as possible. In addition, I’m reluctant to ask them to do so as there’s always another day. In my case, that day will be the last of this year’s Giro in Brescia. Meanwhile, we have Kitty’s trip to the Alps this weekend to look forward to!