It’s our last stage today, it’s Friday morning and we’re in Tivoli, heading for Spoleto. Yesterday was an up and down sort of day, although by the sixth grappa last night it seemed fine.

We left our hotel (as featured in George A Romero’s movie – Zombies, Dawn of the Dead) and headed for the stage start at Teano, we would never have found it if we hadn’t tagged-on to the Mavic neutral service cars.

Spoleto
Beautiful Tivoli.

It was hot at the start, which was on the outskirts of town near a run-down football pitch where the team buses parked-up. We had planned to do a ‘beginning and end’ piece on the stage, so focused on the logistical aspect of a stage.

We grabbed some interviews, again these are up on the site here; we’re in our own little bubble here, there’s not really time to sit and skek the ‘net so I have hardly seen anything I’ve written, or read the latest on Floyd.

Spoleto
Oleg Tinkov – good guy. Bike nut.

Oleg Tinkoff was an interesting man to meet, tall with craggy good looks and a good command of English. The man is driven; I would bet on a Tinkoff stage win before the end of the Giro. He must have thought we were OK because we are now the proud owners of Tinkoff baseball caps, rare items in Fife.

We had a blether with Steve Cummings, he’s a James Stewart kind of a guy, big, quiet, friendly but not to be messed with – riding for Discovery in the Giro: you have to admire the man.

Spoleto
3 Aussies: Nick Gates (centre) entertaines Matt White (l) and Brett Lancaster with a very animated story.

After the stage we high-talled it to the finish in Frascati by way of the autoroute; following the team buses as they raced each other. Dave kept us alive as I sat and pressed the buttons on the BlackBerry.

The permanence was in a beautifully restored old building but that was where things started to go wrong; I spent ages trying to get connected to the wi-fi and even with the help of the technicians we couldn’t get a consistent connection.

I had all my pics from the morning to send and I could feel the frustration building inside me as the afternoon disolved. Eventually we hard-wired the thing and off went the pics.

By that time Forster had out-dragged Petacchi and Robbie and the show was over. We got a few half decent shots of the riggers breaking the stands and fences down, then nipped-back to the permanence to send them.

It was wearing or 8.00 pm by then so we decided to pitch camp in Frascati. We got a nice wee hotel just two minutes from the permanence.
We had a quick shower and settled-down to rattle-off the last of our copy before our pizza.

Did I mention the grappa?

Later….

Now it’s 15.30 on Friday afternoon, we’re inside the last 40 K of stage six, Dave is hustling the little Lancia down the second big descent of the day and we’ve found the real Giro – at last!

We’re driving the whole course again today, but it’s a different experience from Sardinia and the south – people wave and laugh here.

If you stop to take pictures then you have to take a glass of wine with them. The crowds aren’t huge – that’s for the Alps and Dolomites – but they are warm and enthusiastic.

Spoleto
CSC chillout in the start village.

It didn’t take us long to get from our nice wee hotel in Fracati to the stage start in Tivoli. It’s a beautiful place with waterfalls and Roman ruins amid lush greenery.

Fast-forward to 20.45 on the Autostrad A1, headed north to Pisa, where we catch the plane home in the morning. We completed our stage recce around 40 minutes before the stage finish and headed for the permanence.

I had hassle with the wi-fi straight-off, so we went hard-wired with the connection and off-popped the 50 images to Vancouver in jig-time. I’ll get more pics off to Mertin tomorrow, as soon as I get home.

The cyber world had one last kick to administer though: I had been writing-up my Pez report on the BlackBerry as the day went-on. The game plan being to have it virtually complete for the finish, give it a quick edit, then send it. However, whilst the mobile phone and text functions on the BlackBerry were fine, there was no data connection.

Spoleto
Astana soigneur leaves some pies for the riders.

That happened to us a couple of times in Italy, maybe it’s the area, eventually it ‘clears’ and the email wings-off on its own. You can read the course overview on Pez here.

I couldn’t take the chance though, and had to sit down and transcribe 800 words from the BlackBerry into the laptop so as I could get them away. Naturally, within five minutes of hitting the trail, the message sent from the BlackBerry – aren’t computers a laugh?

We didn’t see much of the stage today but Dave predicted a break would ‘stick’. I think that the fact Di Luca let the jersey go today tells you that he’s serious about the GC.

Spoleto
It’s nearly summer!

If he was thinking short-term then he had plenty of horse power to bring the break back and keep himself in pink: but he didn’t burn-up his squadra – there’ll be a bigger game in town in a week or so. The pressure is off him now with Pinotti in yellow.

We were chatting to Aldis, the T – Mobile soigneur, in Sardinia, he told us: “No big riders, no pressure, it’s good!” Today’s events have changed that a wee bit.

I think it’s a disappointment for the fans at the finish when there’s an ‘arrangement’ like there was today but it’s a time honoured arrangement in stage racing: “Work with me, and if we stay away I’m going to take the jersey, so you can have the stage.” That’s how it worked-out, Pinotti got his jersey and Laverde got his stage – the public? They get a damp squib finish.

That’s our Giro over, as we say in Kirkcaldy, ciao !

Spoleto
That’s these buggers finished – put the pasta on hen.