What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro Di PEZ: Finding Cav

It’s back to work at the Giro d’Italia, and the valiant PEZ Crew hit the road early to take in the start, the finish, and all points in between on today’s 17th tappa to Switzerland – plus have a quick chat with Team High Road’s Mark Cavendish.

“Your shoes! Can I have your shoes!” the kid doesn’t know what Cavendish is saying, so Cav goes down and points at the little guy’s shoes; “If you get my hat, I want your shoes!” This is how Mark Cavendish deals with requests from fans, for his High Road cloth cap.

We went looking for crazy fans today, but instead we caught up with some nice folks, amazing scenery and – Cav: and yes; he’s a Pez reader.

The rest day is behind us – back to work!

Based on the views from his hotels, Ed’s put the mighty PEZ travel budget to good use.

We’re driving from our hotel in the Valdidentro at the bottom of the mighty Passo Stelvio to the stage start in Sondrio.

It’s a transition stage today, from Sondrio to Locarno in Switzerland; the Gazzetta says it one star ‘difficolta.’

A cat with no tail – like those felines from the Isle of Man – has just crossed the road in front of us; is it a sign for a Cav win? If we were ‘Benna’ fans we’d have run it over!

The race story so far?
The Gazzetta sees it this way – out of 10: Contador 9, Ricco 8.5, Bennati 8.5, Simoni 8, Pellizotti 8, Sella 8, Visconti 7.5, Di Luca 6, Savoldelli 5.

The Gazzetta is also unusually fullsome in it’s praise for a Belgian: “Rivelazione Van Den Broeck; 9e a 4-26,” the 25 year old from Rik Van Looy’s home town of Herentals has left a good impression here.

The big difference between the Giro and the Tour is that if it says it in the Tour manual then it’s cast in stone. If it’s in the Giro manual, then, well, it might be like that, but maybe not.

Take the team bus parking this morning; it’s supposed to be outside a shopping centre about a kilometre from the start, but nah – we’ll just park the buses around the corner from the start instead.

We were on bike photography duty this morning (we’ll be bringing you features on the bikes that make the racing here) and we got most of the snaps we need – once we found the buses, that is.

The main mission today is to check out the fans roadside, so let’s go, Dave…

When the Giro is in town, the schools are given a few hours off to watch the show, unsurprisingly children learn to love the race from an early age.

Lago di Como – bella! and there’s a Holland supporter; “vai Rabobank!”

This view across Lago di Como shows the face of the Madonna di Ghisallo climb used at the Giro di Lombardia.

We’re now running on the Giro di Lombardia route, but in reverse; lake to the left, mountains to the right.

Gravedona and the old folks are happy that we take their “foto!”

As we chase the lake shore, in and out of tunnels, we end up taking the wrong slip road, meanwhile oncoming traffic still streams towards us and the race isn’t that far behind us – it just would not happen in le Tour.

Menaggio and we leave the lake, heading in land and up – Benna and Cav won’t have fun here.

Right on cue there’s a “Go Mark” banner, they won’t get a smile from him, that’s for sure.

“Sella primo!” His fans see us at Lago di Piano, we’d like to take more pics guys, but the race isn’t far behind and we have to GO!

Lago di Lugano, the village of Cima, “Ciao Giro” says the banner and everyone wants to be in the Pez photo.

Switzerland and everything looks that little bit neater and tidier. As we haul up away from the lake side, Dave is down to second gear, and yet again we’re reminded that this so called “sprinters stage” ain’t all flat!

The GP Montagna starts at 40 K to go, wide and well surfaced to start with, it drags up steadily for five K, it’s not the most atmospheric climb, but it just keeps chasing the sky line. We think that Cav will handle it though.

The fans here are more just curious locals than tifosi, but we stop to chat to the Pello fans near the top; “and yes he can still win!”

“Grazie Bosisio” says the banner, we’re sure that the LPR management will be saying that too. He’s done what Di Luca and Savoldelli couldn’t – won a stage and worn pink.

Inside 15 K the fans are sparse, but the scenery is nice, we’re back in wine country again. It’s pretty flat here, so a break will need to have a lot of time to escape the sprinter’s teams.

Lago Maggiore, our third beautiful lake of the day, we’re inside five kilometres and the crowd is a little bit thicker, but it all feels a bit ‘flat’ – where are those Bruss fans when you need them?

Half of the police are waving their hands for us to speed up and clear the corsa and the rest are round the next corner, telling us to slow down. It’s twisty, turny, technical on the way in and earlier than we’d like, we’re hauled off the corsa.

We make it to 800 to go before the High Road inspired cavalry charge is upon us.

I’m not happy with my day’s work, “where’s the beef?” We go on the hunt, a head pops out of a bus; Cav – I give thanks to the saint of journos, whoever he may be.

Mark Cavendish poses with the Giro’s new favorite ‘autista’ – none other than our driver Dave.

Pez: Was it pre-planned for Andrй Greipel to win?
Cav: No, he was first into the last corner and I could see that he could win, but I knew that Bennatti was waiting for me to go before he did, so I just waited. First and second is great for the team. I’m really happy with the way team works for me; we’ve proved we’ve got the best lead out train in the Giro and can go home with our heads high.

Pez: We heard you were going to quit after stage 13.
Cav: Last year in the Tour I was exhausted by stage 10, but this year I feel I’m getting stronger as each day goes by. One day I’ll be challenging for the points jersey in the Tour and Giro, so I need to see what it’s like to get over the mountains.

Pez: Is the plan to go all the way to Milan?
Cav: Yeah, but there are two hard stages on Friday and Saturday with tight time cuts.

Pez: How was Plan de Corones?
Cav: Sorry? Oh yeah, that! It was different, when you turned left and there was the dirt road! I couldn’t take it too easy, because you always have to be aware of the time cuts.

Pez: When does the build up for Beijing start?
Cav: I’m riding the Ster Electra Tour in Holland next – I won a stage there last year, then the British Elite Champs, then the Tour and the work for Beijing starts immediately after that.

The bus was revving, it was time to go.

. . . maybe that cat was German?

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