What's Cool In Road Cycling

Chasing The TTT

We’ve always liked big photos here at PEZ, and this summers’ site reno took our format to its widest yet and opened the door to show some of our best work from previous years in never before seen girth ~ ! Sifting through the PEZ archives I stumbled upon my day at the stage 4 Team Time Trial at the 2010 d’Italia from Savigliano to Cuneo.

The day was one of thunder storms and skies changing from bright blue to black, and all points in between.  The dramatic skies and light made for some fantastic photos – that until now have never looked so good. There are certain towns in Italy that from a photog’s view, or to anyone with an eye for interesting visuals – just look amazing. Sprinkle in some genuine locals who don’t venture far from home and this sparkling pink circus makes for one entertaining day.

 

Roadside St. 4: The thing about reporting ‘roadside’, is that you just never know what you’re gonna get. Regardless of how the day unfolds, sometimes it’s not until I sort through my photos in the press room that I see the real story of what transpired…

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Team Liquigas came near the end and laid down the day’s fast time, setting up Ivan Basso for his eventual gc win, but the days spoils and new maglia rosa went to a young Vincenzo Nibali.  You can tell it’s still early May near the alps by the still bare plain trees in the background.

I was well into a seven week family adventure in Italia and at the time we’d rented a fantastic house on the Ligurian coast – which also turned out to be well located for the opening week of the Giro as it landed in Italy from its start in the Netherlands.

The 2+ hour drive to the foothills of the Alps for stage 4 meant an early start, but the adrenaline was flowing as I made my way east and then north to Savigliano, where I picked up my race creds (making my return to the Giro somehow more official) and met up with my old friend Mino – who always joins me for at least one stage of the race. The fact that he’s Italian has helped me numerous times, including today, when got us on course to follow the race – even though my ‘official’ car stickers were waiting for pick up at the finish line.

Over the years I’ve seen how driving the course is just about the best way to experience a stage, as passing through the towns and villages where the lifeblood of this country flows gives a glimpse of what real life Italians, and real Italian life –  are like.

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The Giro’s publicity caravan rolled out of town promptly one hour before race start at 2:50 local time, and even without the ‘cranked to 11’ euro-pop blasting from everywhere, the town was pumped to see this race get rolling on home soil.  The team-width start house was set up in a beautiful piazza.

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The pace of a TT day allows for a lot more time to check out team kit, and looking pro is a huge part of the job – bikes are shined and shown, stacked in neat rows outside the always impressive team busses.  I’ve always found the symmetry and angles of bikes repeating make for some cool images.

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As the first squads rolled out at 3 minute intervals, our plan was to stop along the 33km course and watch the as many of the teams race by, eventually making our own way to the finish line in time for the final teams’ arrival.  Our first stop was Levaldigi – which could likely be a one-horse town… if they had a horse.   But that doesn’t matter when the country’s biggest sporting event goes right past your front door.

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After trying to tee up the perfect race shot, I soon noticed that this place was full of far more interesting subject matter… and as I try to find some comments about these fans, it’s occurred to me that these images speak for themselves.

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All you need is a plastic chair, a piece of curb, and you’re set.  Or your own personal ‘sky box’.

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Back onto the course and headed for our next stop – we got pummeled by the weather that had been less than seasonable all week. The sunny skies turned dark and the rain storms rolled through with a fury I’ve rarely seen. This one lasted about 3 minutes, but delivered bucketsfull of the wet stuff, and a few hailstones.

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Here’s where you really don’t want to be riding a team time trial by yourself… watching your team mates disappear down the road.

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A couple kms further down the road and the sun was back out, but check out what’s behind us.

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Team Sky came though looking strong, and although favoured to win, still scored second on the day, pulling back a few seconds for Wiggo’s GC hopes.

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Not far ahead, the finish town of Cuneo came into view, with the Alps setting about as majestic a background as I could imagine.

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Only a couple of kms left, but many teams were in tatters, split apart by the terrible weather.  Team Garmin had five riders in this group, with Svein Tuft sporting the Canadian TT Champ’s colors.

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Cuneo has featured in many Giros over the years – it’s location between the Ligurian Sea and the Alps sets it up as both a start and finish town for both regions.  I’ve visited the town about three times for races, but never really explored it like

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I managed to crank out my story in about 2 hours after the stage finished and still remember the tall cool beer and pizza I had for dinner.  It was after dark when I aimed the car back home, and a couple more hours of intense night time driving before I was done.  And while the rest of my family was asleep when I returned, I also still remember cracking into one more celebratory cold Nastro Azzuro to as I reflected on what had been another jam-packed, banner day at the Giro.
You can read more of our 2010 Giro coverage here.

Thanks for reading –
Pez

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