Ciao from il Giro d’Italia 2010, amici! I was saying to Martin that I’m a bit worried, I’ve been wakening up feeling great – always a bad sign. The trouble with my usual Giro partner in crime, Dave being back in Scotia and suffering from Giro withdrawal symptoms (he’s coming to le Tour, though) is that everything we write and photograph is subject to close scrutiny.

Giro d'Italia 2010
Breakfast today was pears, bananas, strawberries, and cherries. Half a hundred-weight, three euros! Photo©Martin Williamson

This morning, he’s making the point that it’s wrong to compare le Tour with il Giro – they are two different beasts, each with their own characteristics and quirks.

A fair point Dave, but I was actually responding to those who write in forums and the like saying that; ‘the Giro is better than the Tour’ probably without having been to either.

He also makes the point that we shouldn’t rattle on about long, hard stages – that’s what a Grand Tour is all about.

Whilst Viktor’s view is that the Grand Tours are too long; the first and last weeks attract a lot of attention but nobody is really interested in the middle week and they should be cut back to two weeks.

Answers on a postcard, please.

Giro d'Italia 2010
Vino is brought forward to sign the display sign on sheet, having just signed the real paper one. Photo©Ed Hood

It was a hectic one, today, but maybe we tried to do too much?

It was a sprinter’s stage from Frosinone to Cava de ‘Tirreni, today and driving the stage didn’t seem a good option – long flat urban roads.

Giro d'Italia 2010
Vino and some balloons. Photo©Ed Hood

We decided to do a “glam start/wasted finish” piece plus a Michael Mørkøv interview at the start and an interview with Liquigas PR man Paolo Barbiere at the finish in the press room at Cava de Tirreni.

Giro d'Italia 2010
Richie Porte is riding a superb race, and says howdo as he fights the scrum of riders at the sign on stage. Photo©Ed Hood

The trouble was that we lost a lot of time on the way to the start due to the grim sign posting that they have in Italy.

The glam start went fine but we didn’t quite conclude the Michael interview and agreed to ring him later to answer the last few questions.

Giro d'Italia 2010
Damiano Cungeo signs for fans on his way to sign on. Photo©Ed Hood
Giro d'Italia 2010
Two minutes after the riders leave in glorious sunshine, the rain pelted down. For us, it was coffee time. Photo©Martin Williamson

Off to the finish along the motorway, beneath imposing Monte Cassino.

The Paolo Barbiere interview also went well but he had to dash before we concluded, too – his masseur needed to see him?

Giro d'Italia 2010
Ed and Paolo chat in the quiet press room. Photo©Martin Williamson

We struck out to photograph wasted riders, stressed soigneurs, resigned to their fate mechanics and the general ‘Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow’ that is the aftermath of a stage.

Giro d'Italia 2010
There were a lot of tired lads today, after the five k’s of climbing to the finish. Here’s wee Robbie fighting bursitis in his knee to. Photo©Martin Williamson

However – a vast crowd, teeming rain, a sea of umbrellas, narrow streets and a bum steer on the team bus park location contrived to deny us the opportunity to do an ‘after’ piece.

Three pieces – no ‘punch lines’ but bit by bit we pulled the jigsaw together.

We decided to make it a ‘start’ piece, only; we got hold of Michael by phone as he lay on the massage table – ‘you must speak proper English Ed or I can’t understand you!‘ and Paolo rang to make his last couple of points about the UCI’s handling of the Pellizotti affair.

Giro d'Italia 2010
A glimpse of the finish straight from a fire escape outside the press room. Photo©Martin Williamson

With Martin battling dire signage and world champion standard tail-gaters, we found our digs down in Salerno – the same place as Dave and I were in last year – and got to work.

Giro d'Italia 2010
Saul, the Liquigas mechanic lets us play with Nibali’s Cannondale. Photo©Martin Williamson

We had nice shots from the start, Martin edited those whilst I amended the copy, then I got the Michael Mørkøv interview written up – it was nearly 11:00 pm before we finished.

Giro d'Italia 2010
Saul and Martin have a blether about the weather. Photo©Ed Hood

The Paolo Barbiere piece will have to wait until today.

As for the race itself, we skipped most of the parcours but did drive the last 10 K.

The last five in particular were hard, dragging ever upwards on bad surfaces – the only saving grace was that they were straight.

The tough finale meant that there were GC riders in the mix at the line – Evans and Vino – as well as classy all rounders like Pippo and the pure sprinters had a lot of their venom drawn on that dragging, nasty tarmac – Tyler Farrar was on his knees by the line and big Greipel blew on the run in, that’s why Columbia adopted ‘Plan Goss.’

To perfection as it transpired – Martin grabbed a great shot of the Columbia train shaking hands as they rode the finish straight, clued in by their ear pieces that ‘Gossy’ had won.

The shot was out of focus, though – not surprising given that there were eejits exploding fire crackers beside us.

Giro d'Italia 2010
It’s out of focus, but you get the gist. Adam Hansen and Marcus Sieberg are chuffed that their hard work paid off. Photo©Martin Williamson

A long day, we’ll know if it was a good one or not when we see how the pieces look on the site. The guy who sets the pieces up , Jered Gruber, is like Martin in that they can make silk purses from sow’s lugs.

Sometimes, I look at pieces and think, ‘did I do that? it’s not bad!’ but a lot of it is their skill at laying the piece out.

07:19 in Salerno on Tuesday, I’m sitting out on the veranda as the big ferry port comes to life.

Martin is still knocking up those well deserved ‘zeeees.’

Today is a sprinters’ stage, with the finish way over on the other side of Italia – Bitonto. No relation to the Lone Ranger’s neebz, apparently.

Where we are in Salerno is the furthest south I’ve been in Italy, so I’m looking forward to venturing to the heel of the Italian boot and the ‘olive capital of italy’ – so famous that there’s no mention of it in the rough guide.

And some sunshine would be nice – it’s been the wettest Giro I’ve witnessed.

Anyway, Puglia calls; tell you about it tomorrow – and I’ve not bought my Gazzetta, yet.

Bocca lupo! – and I’ll tell you what that means tomorrow, too.