When you hear the tootin’ of the whistle, you never have to guess; it’s Casey at the throttle of the Cannonball Express” – Dave and I were just debating the lyrics of the Casey Jones 60’s TV programme, if anyone can give us the full lyrics, we’d be much obliged.

Sorry, on long transfer drives like this, you get to talking about all sorts of things.

Giro d'Italia 2008
Our morning view.

You left us at San Lorenzo, now we’re en route to Sondrio – not a huge distance, maybe 250 K but on B roads and involving two mountain passes. The weather is glorious today, 23 degrees and we’re at 1000 metres plus as we head east across the north of Italy.

Giro d'Italia 2008
The Mendola Pass.

Tomorrow’s stage goes from Sondrio to Locarno in Switzerland, another for Cav maybe? The only thing he has to work on, is his style, he’s maybe challenging ‘Benna’ for speed but he’s not in the same league for ‘cool’.

The Gazzetta is good today, with a full run down on the Plan de Corones stage and some great pics.

Giro d'Italia 2008
La Gazzetta and strudel. Bliss.

I was talking about Matt Rendell’s Pantani book yesterday and looking at the Gazzetta today made me think about it again. The Gazzetta was “bigging up” the TV audience for the Marmolada stage – 4 million, 35% audience share. In his prime, Pantani was attracting 6 million – those marketing guys must miss him!

The stats in the Gazzetta make interesting reading, a good few teams are still intact, LPR, Caisse, High Road, QuickStep (would you like to tell Patrick Lefevre you’ve climbed off?) and Diquigiovanni.

But some are in tatters, Euskaltel have five survivors, Cofidis are down to four and big hitters, Gerolsteiner have two left

Six got the chop from the time cut at Plan de Corones yesterday – surprisingly including strongmen Belohvosciks (Saunier) and Haymen (Rabobank) – the field is down to 146 from 198.

Giro d'Italia 2008
Picturesque vineyards.

We’re on the Tonale Pass at the moment, our second Passo of the day, the first was the Mendola, which had stunning views across the valley to the Dolomites.

Giro d'Italia 2008
Bressanone Cathedral.
Giro d'Italia 2008
Bressanone.

Two cyclists appeared up ahead, old guys with really fit legs, one was Gianni Motta, 1966 Giro winner. He does the rounds for one of the big banks at Giro time; last year we saw him in Sardinia. They had Moser on the roster too, last year but Motta is a more tranquil character than Francesco. “Vai Motta!” and on we go.

Giro d'Italia 2008
Gianni Motta, 1966 Giro winner.

It’s 14.36 as I write this, we left well ahead over 09.30 schedule and had thought we’d be at Sondrio in four hours; I should know better.

Sinuous roads, mountain passes, road works, tucks and tractors all conspire to making progress across Italy very slow. And up here, there are no Autostrada to resort to.

Giro d'Italia 2008
Typical farm transport.

The first 70% or so of the journey was great, the last couple of hours was a slog – slow and little to see except the brake lights of whatever was crawling along in front of us.

Compared to the glorious valleys where we’ve just come form, it’s a bit of a downer; but like I said, you get to the stage where you just want out of the damn car.

Journeys end was more than six hours after we left, apart from photo stops and five minutes to guzzle our strudel, we didn’t put off any time.

Back to work tomorrow, I’m just glad today was so easy! Ciao, ciao!

Giro d'Italia 2008
Journey’s end – phew!