We miss the turn for Rimini airport, the signage is dire, we’re late already, off at Rimini Nord, through the tolls, U turn and back down the other side of the autostrada, there it is, dump the car, limp to the terminal.
‘You’re baggage is overweight sir,‘ abandon my shorts, T-shirts, carry my sweat shirt and jacket – still over, even though I can tell the bag weighs nothing like the 13 kilos they say it does.
Eventually, they relent and I’m through, I come through security looking like Harold Steptoe just finished his round.
“I’ll never fly Ryanair again!” – well, not until the Tour, anyway.
It’s always grim to leave a Grand Tour ‘hanging’ but that’s what we had to do, today.
Stage 12 is a sprinters’ stage from Citta San Angelo to Porto Recanati but we have a plane to catch at 16:20 so we can’t do too much today.
Yesterday was an epic, it would be good to poll the riders and team officials and get their opinions, so that’s what we decide to do.
Try the sign on first.
The Giro girls are doing a dance routine, thick black hair, warm smiles, brown skin, micro skirts – ah, yes, interviews; ‘come on son, we best go and find some riders.’
Down at the bus park -Columbia, our big amigo, Adam Hansen pulled out yesterday.
But Aldis, the Latvian soigneur, whom I know from the sixes is happy to see us.
I leave Martin chatting to him whilst I pounce on Matt Goss – like all of the Aussies, he’s cool, whatever happens now, he’s had a great Giro, with that stage win.
Say ‘ciao, ciao’ to Aldis, off on the hunt for more victims.
We like the AG2R Kuotas – workmanlike, real pro bikes.
Paolo Barbieri the Liquigas press guy is next, he’s cool and has the facial hair to back that claim up.
Liquigas are unapologetic about not helping Vino; ‘when Nibali crashes, they attack – they declare war!‘
Back down past the Sky bus, it’s all a bit ‘James Bond villainish’ for me, but utterly immaculate.
David Brailsford will be in that streamlined camper van; ‘and once we’ve won the Tour, we go for a seat on the security council of the UN, Mr. Sutton.‘
‘Bonzer, Boss, what’s the beer like there?‘
‘Call me Sir David!‘
Savio, dapper DS of Diquigiovanni is next (but don’t tell Dan Fleeman – if you see me, ask!)
Like Paolo, he puts things into the perspective of honour and obligations – rare words when talking about sport, these days.
Into the village, Adriano Baffi, dare devil sprinter and six day rider, he bemoans that it’s not like the ‘old days’ – we understand.
A new chum, Iñigo the press guy from Caisse D’Epargne, nearby, Neil Stephens tells someone about a Ruta del Sol stage win.
Yesterday was a good one for the Spanish bank with Arroyo catapulted up the GC.
Erik Dekker at Rabobank gives us plenty of time, his punchline is that Vino wanted to give the jersey away so as not to have to defend it – but maybe not by so much!
Marc Sergeant was a cool rider, he’s a cool DS, again he has plenty of time for the boys and is relaxed – a stage win and the green jersey on one of your riders’ backs is very therapeutic.
Julian Dean, a bit less nervous than the last time we spoke to him – he’s never seen anything like yesterday and today just might be Tyler’s hat-trick.
Ted King, or ‘King Edward’ as his team mates rib him, is cool, tanned, veins in his legs doing the road map thing.
He’s a big Boston Red Sox fan – apparently a pro ball player has to perform in 162 games per season, like Martin said to him; ‘almost as hard as being a pro cyclist.‘
‘Almost!‘ ripostes Ted.
Big Vlad Karpets is super cool, Martin throws him a few questions in Spanish and the Russian is happy to talk; ‘no, it wasn’t complicated, there was no control‘ he says of yesterday.
Green jersey, Matt Lloyd is tiny and a typical friendly Aussie; ‘in ten days it’ll be all over and we’ll be thinking about the next race.‘
He’s under no illusions about what’s going to go down in the mountains in the last week, but is enjoying his spell in green.
Finally we snatch a few words with Garmin mechanic, Kris Whitington.
The whistles blow, the team cars fire up, it’s roll out time – and the autostrada to Rimini for us.
Did I mention what that shower at Ryanair did to me?