What's Cool In Road Cycling

Grappa d’Italia: 24 Hours With PEZ

An PEZ-Fan email from Alaska asked how PEZ-Man Ed Hood is spending his time in Belgium on the Giro; “All that dude Ed does is eat frites, drink pils, photograph babes and schmooz with the stars, how much does he pay you guys for that gig?” …here’s a look at Ed’s last 24 hours…

…to see for yourself how glamorous the life of Grand Tour journo really is…

There’s an eight hour time difference between Belgium and PEZ world-wide HQ in Vancouver, so around the time the stage is finishing in Belgium, things are just coming to life on the Pacific coast. That means that my deadline is around 17.00 CET (central European time).

Bring electronics – LOTS of electronics.

I didn’t do the stage report yesterday, so up until deadline I was in the press room putting the finishing touches to my interview with Dario Cioni; writing-up an in-depth look at the spanner guys with Discovery (be up soon) and sorting up all the pictures I took during the day.

Aah the press room – funny how you see the same characters here day after day, but today you’re several hundred kms from yesterday.

The press room is cool, very cosmo, even if a few guys are too sexy for their jobs, Contrary to what you might think the press room is often miles from the finish and unless you had in-depth local knowledge and/or a police escort it would take an hour to get from the finish line to the press room at Marcinelle.
There are TVs in the room and sometimes a big screen in a separate room to watch the finish on.

I bolted at around 6.30 pm after I emailed all my stuff in to Pez for final edits and posting; it’s a wireless connection to the laptop and we’re charged 10 euros/ day – that’s right, you pay the organizers to report on their race for them!

First stop was for frites in Charleroi, I ain’t saying the portion was big, but they came with a coal shovel, just Coke to wash them down though – I’ve been in Belgian bars, what must the jails be like?

That’s a nasty 3km climb to the stage 3 finish in Namur.

Next stop was Namur to interview Dario Cioni’s Liquigas team mate and the only British rider on the race, Charly Wegelius. I was to meet him after 9.00 pm, but seeing as Liquigas are an Italian squadra, it was after 10.00 when his slim figure strode into reception, we’ll have an interview with him up soon and he tipped Paolo Bettini to win on the Citadel today.

I got to my hotel around 11.00 pm and did my washing – if you travel light it means you gotta wash stuff as you go, it dries on the radiators over night, no problem.

I phoned my long-suffering girl friend Marlene for a chat and dropped into a coma around midnight.

The alarm in my cell phone hit my nerves at 06.30, there was a wireless signal in my hotel (another 10 euros) so I checked my emails first thing. Richard wanted photos of Gilberto Simoni’s new Scott with its trick paint job; a load of
velo shots and more pictures of ‘whatever’s cool looking’.

Shower, shave, no time for breakfast, pay the hotel bill, fire-up the hire car and
drive up to recce today’s finish at the top of the Citadel in Namur – cobbles and
hairpins for three K up from the river Meuse to the old fortress, ouch!

For once Belgian sign posts made sense and I was up in Perwez pronto, the little Colt sits nice at 150 kph.

At last Ed cashes in on some Giro hospitality…

The Giro is the biggest thing to hit Perwez in a long time; the little town was “en
Fete” and bursting at the seams with fans, the pils was flowing well before ten.
First stop was the start village for free coffee, fresh fruit salad, salami and bread, not to mention taking my “daily distraction” pics – see how tough it is?

The team busses were starting to arrive so I high-tailed it to the other side of the town to the team parking area and started snapping.

Even the elusive Giant of Jan Ullrich was stalked and photographed by the PEZ-Crew.

If you have a press pass and are polite it’s usually no problem to get bikes moved to photograph them, unless it’s T-Mobile of course; “Photo? Nein!”
Fortunately I have a buddy with the team and a quick call to him got me on the right side of the rope to snap Jan’s Giant – he’s the only guy on Power cranks, all the other guys know they have condition, but Jan is still trying to find his.

Danilo DiLuca’s custom Fizik saddle.

All the favourites are on new bikes for the Giro, Savoldelli with his blue Trek Madone; Di Luca with a “Killer” saddle on his un-polished welds Bianchi; Cunego on his tiny Wilier; Basso on a lovely Cervelo Soloist and Simoni on his “Leaning Tower of Pisa” spray-job Scott. I took a whole load of shots and we’ll run a hardware feature soon.

Ale-Jet considers yesterday’s loss.

Show time was approaching and the bikes were disappearing fast as riders went to sign-on so I headed back to the start village. Petacchi was sitting at the Liquigas tent looking glum, Di Luca was asking him how McEwen beat him and Ale Jet was shrugging and puffing his explanation.

Talking of said small Australian, there he was, reading the Gazzetta;
Robbie, congratulations on your win yesterday, have you got a minute to tell me about the finale?
“Yeah, sure, all finales are busy, but that one was really hectic, there aren’t that many pure sprinters here but the GC guys were all up there trying to keep out of trouble. There were four roundabouts in the last five kilometres, so it was dangerous on the run-in; coming into the last 200 metres Petacchi hadn’t started-up and it was Pollack who went first, I reacted and it opened out a bit, I found a way through on the left, it was hard, but I was delighted to get it.”

And how do you fancy your chances today Robbie? “I’ve ridden a race that finished up there at the Citadel before, the GP Wallonie, it wasn’t as good a field as this but I didnt make it t the top with the leaders, so it will be real hard to get up there today, but we’ll see what I can do.”

Thanks Robbie, and all the best for the rest of the Giro a smile; “no problem, thanks,” and he went back to reading his Gazzetta.

The roll-out was the usual chaos, but it always sorts itself out and under a sunny sky stage two was under way.

For me it was my Colt and the motorway back here to press room, which is just at the kilometre to go mark on the Citadel climb.

Crank-up the laptop, sort, caption and email 45 pictures to Richard, write this . . and . . . it’s nearly deadline time again guys.

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