Ciao! Ciao!  It’s 9.30 pm here in Verona, city of opera, Romeo and Juliet and Stage 14 of the 2008 Giro. The stage today is from Modena to Cittadella.

We’re sitting outside our hotel with our “welcome drink” – not a bad beer, as it happens.

Modena
Verona Cafe.

It’s been a long one – up at 03.30 am; car to Turnhouse; Easyjet to Stanstead; Ryanair to Brescia with two screeching Essex girls in the seats in front of us, then hire car to Verona.

Modena
Stunning architecture in these parts.

We threw caution to the wind and bought a map of Verona on the way in to the city at a filling station; finding the hotel was a breeze.  I’ve got all the hotels pre-booked this year; it won’t be as much fun as driving around Italy at midnight looking for a bed but we’re a year older and getting soft.

Modena
The start for tomorrow’s 14th stage – the ancient Roman coloseum at Piazza Bra.

Ale, who has been ‘roadside’ had a camera failure today and couldn’t do his piece, so we stepped in and did a little ‘story so far’ piece.

This meant that we had to nip into Verona and get some pics before diving back to the hotel to finish the piece and get the images away.

There’s no wi-fi in the hotel but they’ve got free lobby internet terminals. That means that the pics have to get edited on the laptop then transferred onto a memory stick, taken down to the lobby and emailed from there.

Fortunately there was no problem getting access to the USB’s and the pics flew off into cyber space without too much hassle.

Modena
A typical Veronan kiosk.

Verona was under going Giro-fication when we got there, the rigging crews were busy building the start village as the dinners in the pavement cafés sat and observed.

Modena
Setting up for tomorrow.

Verona is a Roman city and the start area sits under the Arena, this was built in the first century and is still in use as an opera venue – Meadowbank was only built in 1970 and it’s getting torn down, so much for progress!

We had a wander round and grabbed a pizza before driving back to the digs.

Modena
Jings – we find ourselves in another cafe.

Now we know the lie of the land for tomorrow and the stage start. We’ll be picking up our credentials in the morning. Usually this is done at the Stampa, (press room) but these are always located at the finish.  However, the Gazzetta has a camper van at the stage starts, where you can get your creds; so that’s our game plan tomorrow.

The alarms are set for 07.00, breakfast will be 08.00 and then it’s down to get our creds. The game plan for tomorrow is do a big bike recce; I want to do a number of articles about the velos – sprinters, time triallists, climbers plus any ‘novelties’ we suss – watch this space! We’ll also begin to suss out interviews.

After our bike skek and just before the start we plan to bolt to the finish and do a piece on how the day comes together there – the crowd, the atmosphere and then, of course, the riders.

There’ll be winners, loosers, also rans and eliminations – we’ll try to do our best to take you there.

Not sure if we’ll sleep tonight…

Modena
D&G luxury.