The week-long Tirreno-Adriatico used to be just Italy’s answer to Paris-Nice’s “race to the race to the sun”. But Tirreno’s “race between two seas” became the better lead up to Milan san Remo, and in recent years has gained even more as a goal for the Grand Tour riders. PEZ went roadside for stages 4 & 6 across the Italian boot.
The cut.. and everything begins.
The cut of the olive trees gives the signal: we are close to the Milano Sanremo. Here, on the Adriatic hills the air is still cold, especially during the late afternoon, but the signs are there and are clear. The light over the west holds a bit more and the smell of the country can’t be mistaken. Winter is closing.
I was on the road at Strade Bianche and I went back at Tirreno, for a couple of stages, helped by the fact that last days of this race are taking place in my backyard. This is a race that was thought to be a boost for Italian riders to win the Milano Sanremo, but it’s now a World Tour event were riders fight every day for a stage win and the GC riders take it on as a full target, even not planning the Classicissima later on.
Stage 4 and stage 6 were fitting really well for my plan. Stage 4 was a hilly one (the kind I prefer) and stage 6 was rolling beside the coastline, not far away from Fano, my town. In between stage 5 was a mountain stage with summit finish on Monte San Vicino. However this one was skipped at the last moment by RCS Sport due to an expected forthcoming bad weather that never came: lot of discussions and polemic speeches instead of racing. It wasn’t the same Sunday many of us were waiting for.
The snow was a risk and from Foligno you could clearly watch it sitting on the top of the mountains all around; it was a windy day last Saturday when the race hit the hills around the Umbrian town. I carefully selected the place to watch the race. The choice was to the climb Montefalco; a narrow road climbing the olives trees fields. This place was particularly inspiring, thanks to an old tower at the base of the hill. Umbria, Toscana and Marche, in short the center Italy, are full of these places but it’s always very pleasant to find some new one: Fabbri, the name of the village, pay a visit if you pass by there.
Race wasn’t that memoreable, with Cancellara making tempo for his team mate Mollema and all others waiting for the mountain stage that never came. However, the excitement you feel when the race is coming always shakes me. A kind of medicine, to the flat of the life, that risks to rock and roll without a sense. Is it cycling giving sense to a life? Probably not, but I feel it may help. At least to me.
Day to Ceppagatti was a different one. Flat stage, nothing exciting on the paper, but as usual, what made the difference was the trip. A long drive south to Marche, a fast passage in Pollenza, 341 meters elevation, as clearly indicated by the big paint on the town wall. Bright light, a north east wind, still cold, and a third category climb at the beginning of the stage. Group rolling above of me for most of the stage, recovery and passage in front of Pineto tower on the Adriatic sea. Done. The race hit the “other sea” and tomorrow will be over.
Everything is almost ready for Saturday. The big one is coming: the Milano Sanremo. At the end I think that the Tirreno’s queen stage cancellation went as a good thing for riders in preparation of the Primavera. Today in Ceppagatti Van Avermaet won and Saturday he will probably try a move on Poggio (he did already a couple in 2011 and last year). Sagan seems also in very good condition and several other, also considering those coming from Paris Nice.
Everything is almost ready, olives cut included. I met two last Saturday, leaving of olive oil. Two old but healthy farmers. They were taking a break while cutting the olive trees, watching the race passage. We made some words, about their valley and about the life there. Their life has the same rhythm of the trees. They set their life to the trees’ needs because this is their life already. It’s not anymore a job, it’s a need they have to take care of those perfect beings. The cut is the beginning of a story, told me the man, it’s when everything starts again, the trip, our trip. A trip made of storms, sun, wind and, – if God wants – olives.
Yes, the cut gives definitively the signal.