I woke with a start, in the middle of the night, damn! I thought, things I should have mentioned, in the diary – Blockhaus; today’s mega climb, we caught sight of it yesterday morning as we hurtled down the Autostrada.
The computer was reading 30+ degrees, the road was gently rolling along, parallel to the Adriatic and in front of us was this huge mass of snow covered rock – awe inspiring, but with too much heat haze to photograph: we’ll get a close look today.
And I should also have mentioned – Cipo; he strode into the hotel lobby, just off his bike, tall, slim, tanned and looking very fit – I do have concerns however, that he shaves his chest.
It’s 09:15 and we have a new chum, Luciano Rabottini; we stopped to have a look at his bike shop, he spotted my six day shirt and next thing he was giving us his palmares.
He’s worn well and doesn’t look that different from when he was burning up the tar in Tirreno-Adriatico.
The start town of Chieti was nice and we enjoyed a beer and a cappuccino in the Caffe Vittoria before falling for the charms of the lovely punting the “100 Years of the Giro” books – 15 euros each.
The opening kilometres of the stage were pan flat and horrible, urban clutter for kilometre after kilometre – the calm before the storm.
In fairness to the Giro organisers, they were probably giving the riders time to warm up legs which were still a little stiff after the rest day.
Not far inland, the lie of the land changed and we were in wine country; rolling hills covered with vines.
Suffice to say that Blockhaus is a long, hard, brutal climb.
The speed the pros race these climbs at beggars belief, we watched a decent part of the stage on the big screen and it’s hard to believe that the climb they’re revving up, is the same one we just saw people reduced to walking up.
The weather at the top was cool, it’s not often that I welcome the temperature dropping, but it was nice not to be sweltering, today.
When we left the press room, the air was sweet and cool, with the birds singing – when we went in to the press room, the noise was deafening with the air full of exhaust fumes from the motorbikes and team cars.
It’s now 20:40 local time and we’re free wheeling off the mountain – free wheeling because the petrol warning light is on and we’re saving gas – the smell of frying brake pads is lovely.
Like I’ve said before, it’s a glamorous life on the Grand Tours.
The day is saved, we found an automat petrol pump!
Tomorrow’s stage (18) is the sprinter’s last chance; Sulmona to Benevento, 182 kilometres.
Our digs are in Sulmona, we’re not complaining about that.
Another good day of racing, today; we just hope that there’s nothing in the rumours starting to bubble about Menchov and his possible involvement in . . . .
No, let’s not go there.
Lets just say; “Forza Danilo !” and buona notte.