What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro di PEZ: Ale’s Time Travel

Roadside St.7: Ten years ago PEZ was moving the first steps of its great life and I was a young photo reporter with no way to deliver my passion. My amateur web page was a total frustration of no readers but by chance Mr. PEZ saw a picture I published of the 2002 Tirreno Adriatico stage finishing in Rocca di Cambio. So, today’s plan is to repeat the same picture and see how things have changed with time…

Here’s the shot from Tirreno 2002 that brought Ale & PEZ together.

The stage is long, over 200 km and the day is warm; so I decide to watch the start village and then view a passage of the start and move to the final climb. The start takes place from Recanati, a very nice town in the Marche region. Ancient walls, towers and small roads as you can imagine a central Italian village.

Ready for the start at the Giro village.

I hope these reports will convince you that Marche are not so far from Tuscany beauty; usually foreign people think Tuscany as the most beautiful place for countryside in Italy, that is probably true, but Marche is not far behind. Calls definitively your visit.

L’aquila veste rosa (the eagle wears pink). Scarponi is called the Eagle from Filottrano (a small village in the area), and is the local superstar today.

The weather is fantastic and it’s already quite warm, riders as usual are very late to sign but I have the luck to meet once again Ashley and Jered, who are following all Giro stages for RCS and working on Pez too. I don’t know where they find the strength… and still two full weeks have to come. Chasing the Giro is quite hard and I feel lucky every evening I can come back at home to work on report, send pieces and pictures. But if you have to find your hotel, where usually there’s no internet, or it’s slow, than the job can become really stressful.

The Giro village is located as usual in the old center of the town: lot of people and confusion but really a nice view.

When riders start to come it’s time to go in order to avoid being blocked by officials. The press has to anticipate the race about 20 minutes and I don’t like trouble with that. I move on a small climb, close to Macerata town and when the race passes already 4 guys are breaking with a good margin on the bunch. Malori today is the maglia rosa but he is in the same team with Scarponi and Cunego and the Lampre for sure won’t defend his leadership. The break can go!

The Giro official is not really happy about my position.

In fact when the bunch passes beside me everybody is very quiet and they are even talking to each other. Very different from yesterday. But a grand tour is a kind of race where every day a new story has to be written; today the finish is difficult because on a climb and riders have to care about it. Not everyday can be the same battle!

The break of 4.

The bunch is coming.

Road to the finish is almost all in highway. Down through the coast till Giulianova and then through the long tunnel of the Gran Sasso, the highest mountain of the Italian Appenines. Seems to be on Alps but we are really in South Italy. Well, after yesterday’s lunch in a beautiful restaurant I decide to repeat the experience and I don’t stop along the main highway. No decision could be worst. In fact the final climb is located in one of the most depressed area of Italy.

No hurry my friends, we have all the day long.

The church of L’Aquila city destroyed by the earthquake in 2009 and now under repair is the symbol of the tragedy.

Three years ago here a big earthquake destroyed half the city of L’Aquila and several towns in the area. A lot of people have been left without a home and lived in tents for months. Signs of the destruction are still almost everywhere and it’s really a painful show for who came here before, as I did. So, all the area seems to be just surviving and what it’s really clear is that business is over. No supermarkets, no restaurants, no hotels. Even no crown on the climb. But the Giro is an Italian lifestyle, even more than a race, and it’s good is coming here to keep some hope to these our brothers that are leaving so many difficulties.

An attack on the last climb.

On the climb the sun resists and it’s really warm on the road. The climb is not steep and the main favourites will not suffer it but my idea is that someone could have some issue with the temperature. Another interesting argument of the finale is to see if the young maglia rosa will be able to hold the leadership. In fact the break is losing minutes after minutes and at the beginning of the last climb the situation is back to “gruppo compatto”.

But the main leaders group is in pursuit with Savio guys.

While updating twitter (by the way, are you following @Pezcycling and @Albumciclismo) I discover that Jered and Ashley have parked close to my position. I find Ashley but not Jered (well, better than vice versa!) because the young photographer from Oregon decided to climb the rocks and reach the top of the mountain to keep a special view of the climb. I really recommend you to follow Gruber’s flickr link because they are doing a great job there and you can find a daily compilation of special pics that you can’t find anywhere else.

The maglia rosa loses the wheels but not the look.

Now the race is coming, I’ve prepared the renew of the ten years old picture thanks to which Pez chose me as Italian correspondent. The problem is that ten years ago there were less trees than now, but at the end I managed to have more or less the same look. Everything ready, but I decide to spot the sprinters gruppetto from that view. I would like to see the big names from different positions. The news of the day is that Malori, maglia rosa, lose the wheels and the hope to hold the jersey. Anyway a great day for the young guy. We will probably see him also in the future. When he passes beside me he is suffering a bit but still in good shape keeping his own pace.

Here comes the sprinters’ gruppetto, it’s my time!

So, here we are, finally I did it. I used my personal time-machine and I set it ten years ago. Just for a second, or even less (let’s say 1/500 sec) I traveled in the 2002 and in the heart of that guy, with no wife, no babies and a life ahead that spotted the Tirreno Adriatico in a cold March afternoon. I will not write I’ve seen all last ten years of my life passing through but I must admit I had a shiver and a conclusion: I’m growing old. The renewed picture is so ready and can be posted in this story. The question for Pez it’s obvious: are you holding me ten years more?

What about ten years more, Pez?

This was my last day at Giro 2012. For the next week you’ll have the luck to read Ed. I will miss this time I’m having with you all and I hope I’ve given at least a bit of the many I had from this Giro.

Thanks for reading,

[NOTE From PEZ: “I’ll think we’ll keep you around, Ale…”]

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