What's Cool In Road Cycling

Lombardia Up Close: The Breakaway’s Diego Caccia

Last week in Bologna, at the Emilia departure, Diego Caccia and I were speaking about vacations – “I will spend a few weeks in a warm place, but first, I like to find a last minute opportunity.” Saturday, when I watched him climbing the Ghisallo – the climb of the giants – I understood how far away the vacation was. PEZ friend Diego Caccia found his last minute opportunity in the long early break of the Giro di Lombardia 2010.

He didn’t win the race because his duty is the dirty job (and he did it damn well); he wasn’t even able to reach the finish line, but he was, for sure, one of the protagonists of an epic day thanks to a very long attack on a terrible, wet day.

He survived the dangerous roads, nasty wet descents and cold weather around the Como’s Lake roads. He had the opportunity of the first row vision in one of the most exciting, monumental classics of the year. Diego, please, tell us how hard it was…

“I joined Como when the race was 10 km to go. My girlfriend was waiting for me near the team motor home and I believe she was feeling colder than me.”

Diego Caccia left the race while he was climbing the Sormano, 50 km to go, after 200 km spent ahead of the race.

“I started to feel cold while I was with Albasini on the Ghisallo. The Swiss was making the pace, and in the false flat portion of the climb I gave him a couple of shifts; I was freezing and I couldn’t remain with him on the last part of the climb.”

Sormano, 50 km to go. Diego Caccia turns toward the valley and starts a new adventure. “I know the area quite well,” – he lives just 25 km from Lecco – “and I shortcut a couple of roads I know. I had a unique thought; a warm tea.”

“Before leaving the race, the team car passed me dry clothes, but still, it was raining, and I was again wet after a few kilometres of road.”

The adventure wasn’t over when he finally got back to Como though. There was still a bit of work to be done.

“Back to Como, I was looking for the teams buses area, but… nothing. I wasn’t able to find it.”

Como is quite a labyrinth. If you don’t know it, it’s easy to get lost. High buildings are covering the views to the lake and you lose the orientation.

“I asked a cop to help me to find the buses area, but I received just a bad answer from him”. A frustrated cop, probably unaware to be in front of a giant of the race, left alone, and far from the route to control the traffic started to quarrel about the opportunity to guest a race in his city.

“I was much more frustrated than him in that moment and I lost the patience.”

Como is surrounded by the darkness, when Caccia reaches the motor home. The rain is falling and the race is coming to the finish. Just 34 riders are going to complete the entire route. All the other experienced more or less the same plight our friend did.

“I frequently train on the lake route. I know quite well the weather and, when the race joined the lake coastal roads I was sure the clouds could hold all the day”.

“My duty was to keep Visconti covered all the day. My team mates Mirenda, Ricci Bitti and De Negri had to try the break” – “I tried an attack, just one, to cover Ricci Bitti, who was trying to break since the beginning and, after just 20 kilometres of race, the break left. Without Ricci Bitti, but with me!”.

“We were six ahead, me, my team mate Mirenda, Da Dalto, Gallopin, Carlstrom and Albasini.” – “We climbed the Intelvi without too much rush; we were particularly strong on the flat and, hour by hour the advantage was growing.”

“We had the luck to be in six because behind, in the bunch, in the first descent they started to fall” – “The Intelvi descent is particularly difficult and there are a lot of leaves on the road, which become slippery” – “We were informed by the radio that the bunch was dividing in groups along the Intelvi descent and several were falling.”

The race covers half way and the second climb of the day starts. “We lost a lot of gap on Ballabio climb, our pace was unsatisfactory, and behind, the Pharma guys were chasing so hard.”

The worst has to come. From the top of the Ballabio to Lecco there are 10 km of descent. It was raining since an hour but when we started to come down was also started to have problems. Gallopin was very dangerous, I believe he was having more problems than the others. He was cutting turns, unable to brake regularly, I risked a lot in a left turn because of him.”

In Lecco there are just 4 riders ahead. Gallopin crashed, and so did Mirenda.

“We were having 3 minutes more on the bunch and the nasty roads were on our side; too dangerous and too narrow to organize a chase.”

Ghisallo. Here we are. The Sanctuary of the cycling. One of those few places that can tell about all time cycling heroes. A climb for few.

Caccia is there, ahead. Albasini is making the pace and Caccia is tightening his teeth but he’s not alone.

“There were several supporters screaming my name. I was in front of a magic race, on a magic climb and the people were recognizing me.”

It’s the key moment: Visconti moves strongly and comes to Caccia, his team mate.

“The job was not finished because I had to give everything remained in me to help Giovanni.”

“That descent is freezing you even in August; yesterday was terrible. So when we started to climb the Sormano I left the head of the race; completely emptied, in the body and in the mind.”

Caccia’s parents were also coming to witness their son riding the Lombardia.

“Unfortunately, they chose to come with the motorbike; they were probably colder than me, but they were able to pass me a warm tea on the Ballabio climb. The drink for me was becoming cold, but they joined a bar and they warmed it for me.”

The tale above is a piece of reality in an epic day the cycling experienced yesterday. It’s one of the hundreds this sport leave on the road. They were two hundred in Milan, yesterday morning and just thirty four in Como, in the evening. After 250 km of break in Sanremo, Caccia decided yesterday to try the opportunity. One day he told me “There will be a time the bunch will under estimate me over there ahead. That day, will be my one”.

Narrow roads, the lake, the rain, the cold, the crashes. What a race.

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