Friday Feature: Sheree and Nathalie’s Giro diary – stage 21

Sheree brings us her photo diary from her trip to the last day of this year’s epic Giro.

I was at the last day of the Tour de France last year in Paris so this year I thought: why not go to the last day of the Giro d’Italia in Brescia? I was accompanied by my in-house photographer who struck out – stood in the wrong place – but not my friend Nathalie Novembrini who, fortunately for me, managed to bag a number of photographs to help me convey the party atmosphere on the last day of what we’ll long remember as an epic Giro.   

Early birds catch the worms

Any self-respecting cycling fan will tell you that you need to arrive early, scout out possible locations, bag your spot and stay there.  We were early enough to catch the last-minute preparations for the finish of the final stage which capped a thoroughly engrossing three weeks of racing.

Still readying the finish (image: Nathalie)

Still readying the finish (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Wouter Weylandt - gone but never forgotten (image: Nathalie)

Wouter Weylandt – gone but never forgotten (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

The early bird bags the best spot (image: Nathalie)

The early bird bags the best spot (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Are you ready to party?

The town of Brescia used the Grande Arrivo as an excuse to party all weekend – and why not? – and everyone joined in: from shops festooned in pink, the pink-painted refuse bins, dogs sporting pink collars, to spectators decked out in every shade of rose.

Pink refuse bins and the town was bedecked with pink flowers (image: Sheree)

Pink refuse bins and the town was bedecked with pink flowers (Image: Sheree)

Every and I do mean every shop in Brescia had a window display paying tribute to the Giro (image: Sheree)

Every, and I do mean every, shop in Brescia had a window display paying homage to the Giro (Image: Sheree)

Nathalie's sporting pink trainers and pink nails tipped with the Italain flag (image: Nathalie)

Nathalie’s sporting pink trainers and pink nails tipped with the Italian flag (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Ready and waiting for the action to start

We were conflicted. Did we take up residence at the finish or close to the podium? The two were some way apart and the estimated crowd of 300,000 would mitigate against moving easily from one to the other. In the end we opted for the podium and had a pretty reasonable spot within easy sight of it – until they moved the barriers! But we could still see the big screen and part of the circuit – small mercies.

Uran's fans proclaiming his greatness in Italian (image: Nathalie)

Uran’s fans proclaiming his greatness in Italian (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Here they come on the first of seven laps of a 4.2km circuit to the cheers of the awaiting crowds.

Here comes the maglia rosa with his Astana and Vini Fantini guard of honour (image: Nathalie)

Here comes the maglia rosa with his Astana and Vini Fantini guard of honour (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Stage and points jersey winner Mark "Cannonball" Cavendish (image: Nathalie)

Stage and points jersey winner Mark Cannonball Cavendish (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Giro mascot Girbecco takes a short-cut (image: Nathalie)

Giro mascot Girbecco takes a short-cut (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

To the winner the spoils

All too soon the stage and the Giro are over for another year and then comes the moment we were all waiting for: Vincenzo Nibali’s coronation, the first Italian rider from southern Italy to win the Giro and the first Sicilian. Fittingly the organisers had provided him with a throne, a magnificent trophy and a cake!

You can look but please don't touch otherwise the trained killers guarding the trophy will ....................(image: Sheree)

You can look but please don’t touch otherwise the trained assassins guarding the trophy will have to … (Image: Sheree)

Here's one I prepared earlier (image: Sheree)

Here’s one I prepared earlier (Image: Sheree)

But first the riders have to weave their way from the finish to the podium.

The victor en route to the podium acknowledges his fan club (image: Richard)

The victor en route to the podium acknowledges his fan club (Image: Richard Whatley)

Cav goes straight into the arms of his soigneur (image: Richard)

Cav goes straight into the arms of his soigneur (Image: Richard Whatley)

Carlos Betancur looking pristine in his all white kit of Best Young Rider (image Sheree)

Carlos Betancur looking pristine in his all white kit of Best Young Rider (Image: Sheree)

Let the prize-giving commence. I love it when they hand out prizes for spending the most time in the breakaways, best kit, most elegant rider, best haircut. Okay, so I made up a few of those categories, but we’re in Italy, it would be fitting, no?

Cavendish won, five stages, the points jersey and most combative (image: Nathalie)

Cavendish won five stages, the points jersey and most combative (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Those girls should have been fitted with safety goggles, that kit’s blinding. Call Health & Safety now!

Rafael Andriato wins the intermediate sprints prize and the prize for the most breakaway kilometres (image Nathalie)

Rafael Andriato wins the intermediate sprints prize and the prize for the most breakaway kilometres (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Stefano Pirazzi is top dog in the mountains (image Nathalie)

Stefano Pirazzi is top dog in the mountains (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Is it my imagination or has one of the Sky team shrunk? I blame all that rain!

Sky finish runners-up with Mick Jagger lookalike Rigobetro Uran and top team (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Sky finish runners-up with Mick Jagger lookalike Rigoberto Uran and top team (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Movistar win four stages, have Intxausti in pink for a day and win the Super team award (image: Nathalie)

Movistar win four stages, have Intxausti in pink for a day and win the Super Team award (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Astana’s kit provider produced pink shirts with a turquoise shark on them for the final day for the all team support staff, the Kazakh film crew, Astana fans and anyone else who could blag one. You did save me one, didn’t you?

The victor and his team (image: Nathalie)

The victor and his team (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Giro litter bugs with lots of pink and gold confetti (image: Nathalie)

Giro litter bugs with lots of pink and gold confetti (Image: Nathalie Novembrini)

Nibali's new avatar (image: Vincenzo Nibali)

Nibali’s new avatar (Image: Vincenzo Nibali)

After the podium ceremony there were interviews with the various television channels, doping control, meet-and-greet with family and friends, an appearance on RAI TV’s post-stage show with Alessandra De Stefano, the press conference and finally at 20:40 Nibali emerged looking a wee bit weary and got into the waiting Astana car to be driven back to the team hotel for the post-Giro celebration party with fireworks.

Not sure who's smile is bigger: the winner or his team manager! (image: Astana)

Not sure whose smile is bigger: the winner or his team manager! (Image: Astana)

If you’re wondering which last day is better, the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia, I honestly can’t decide: it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.