Good Times Bad Times – CIAO!

The Giro d’Italia version 2010 has begun. We started racing up in Amsterdam (which, while not technically* part of Italy, was a cool place to start racing from) with a time trial, followed by two road stages. The start of a Grand Tour is always cool — the whole team starts to find extra gears, and the organisation is singing by start time. Despite (or because of) this, the riders get edgier and edgier, and so “transgressions” that wouldn’t have even resulted in a batted eyelid days earlier suddenly become monumentally important. Fun.

My job has been to treat any injuries or niggles that have reared up in the final few days leading in to the race, and then to continue to do the same throughout the race. I am also massaging one of the boys daily (all of the boys get a daily massage when at races). At this race the daily person I’m looking after is Jack “JackyBobby” Bobridge, a young Aussie kid with ridiculous amounts of talent. The bastard. It’s cool chatting to him and seeing his reactions to each day! And then I also look after whoever else needs physio treatment on top of their massage.

Good Times Bad Times
Simple and delicious - it's a tough gig.

We’ve had mixed fortunes thus far — the Day One Time Trial saw us finish some six seconds off the pace over 8.4km, which wasn’t bad. Day Two, and we were ONE second off the pace, and Day Three, we ended up one second off the pace again. Ohh the pain of just missing the lead of the whole race by such a tiny margin!

Day One (an 8.4km Time Trial) dawned wet, but the rain petered out prior to the race itself starting in the centre of Amsterdam. The road thus was drying out throughout the day, but had not completely dried out even by the end of the race. The order of starters became very significant, and painfully for us, one of our boys, Tyler, started early in the race. He found himself entering corners with the brakes on through fear of slipping on the road because of the potential of there being water on the road on the blind side of the corner, only to realise that the corner wasn’t wet after all, and so he lost quite a bit of time throughout the race.

Day Two was a flat stage, and WE WON it!!! Hahahaha! Bloody sensational result — our team sprinter Tyler Farrar won the day with one leg in the air. Well not actually like that, but he did win the thing! I can claim a very small part in that victory as well — each stage has a map of the whole stage, on top of a higher resolution map of the final 3km.

Typical to the Giro d’Italia, the final part of the stage was quite dangerous — there was a ninety degree corner some 220m from the finish, and my job for the day was to check out that corner, and to describe the wind at the finish so we could prepare the best sprint we could manage.

Funnily, and also very Giro-like, the corner was actually 350m from the finish, and not nearly as sharp as originally shown on the map. So our boys knew what to expect and weren’t going too hard too soon, and Tyler eventually won the stage. Wiiiicked result, and with the time bonus he accrued, he was suddenly… ONE SECOND off the lead. Bloody hell. One frickin second. And the day before he had pulled out of multiple corners for fear of crashing, any one of which would have been quick enough for him to have gone a second and a half quicker, and held the pink leader’s jersey!

Good Times Bad Times
This isn't bad, is it.

Day Three was also a flat stage, skipping along the coast of the Netherlands, and it was also a LOT less good a day for Garmin Transitions. The roads of the Netherlands (particularly) are plain dangerous. They are particularly narrow and twisty-turny, and also have lots of speed humps and median strips and random poles sticking up here and there. There are also bajillions of fans lining the roads, and thus it is basically a terrifying day for the bike riders — worried about crashing, being caught behind crashes, or hitting random fans.

Unfortunately for us, our team captain, Christian “VDV” Vandevelde, crashed and appears to have broken his collarbone. Painfully, Day Three of the Giro last year also saw VDV crash out — that time with fractured vertebrae, ribs and pelvis. Total nightmare! Completely gutted for him. Also today, Tyler got stuck on the wrong side of a crash, and so lost 46s of time. Bloody hell! At least Dave Millar stayed with the leaders, and at the end of all of the carnage, the organisers did the sums and we ended up… ONE SECOND DOWN!! Curses!

We were then on a “rest” day, driving all of the team equipment (a bus, truck, 2 vans and 4 cars) from Holland to Italy. So restful! So soothing! My lowlight of that drive was finding the lock on the toilet I was using had broken upon me entering the cubicle. After two or three shoulder charges I casually strolled out, acting like all was normal… Welcome to Italia!

Today we have the Teams Time Trial, and I’ll be standing on the course yelling out splits for the boys as they go past. Despite the loss of VDV, we still have a very strong team, and we hope to be able to do some damage on this stage as well. The big threat seems to be Team Sky, who also have a good side. So we shall see what happens in a few hours. Bring it on!

Hopefully I’ll be able to update this thing regularly throughout the month. We shall see!

CIAO!

*By “technically” in this instance I mean “actually”