Bassano del Grappa

If you’re working the race it’s really hard to see a stage finish – the best spots get grabbed hours before.

The answer is to find a good bar with a big tele, order a beer and enjoy the racing.

That’s what we did today, we were at the start then on the big climb and that was about all we could cram in.

The traffic around Milan/Como/Lugano is absolutely horrible and to get from points A to B takes forever.

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Como-side bar with a beer and the TV tuned to the Giro. Photo©Martin Williamson

There was no way we could make the finish, so a bar it was – on lovely Lake Como side, Bellana with cool beer and a nice TV.

This has been Sacha Modolo’s breakthrough race; it was 2010 when he grabbed fourth place in Milano-Sanremo as a neo pro – since then there have been wins but two Grand Tour stages are confirmation, he’s no longer a second string sprinter, he’s Big League.

In Ferrari and Richeze he has two very fast – but not Bouhani/Cav/Kittel quick – men who, have taken to the role of ‘pilot fish’ with aplomb.

Ferrari in particular is fearless and with Richeze, Modolo has a great ultimo kilometro squadra.

And a great Giro for Lampre; now on four stage wins.

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Ferrari is a great lead-out man for Modolo. Photo©Martin Williamson

We stayed up in Aprica last night, in the same digs as CCC – VeloVeritas‘s East European expert, Ivan would have been in clover.

CCC is ‘only’ Pro Continental but is very well presented, just about everything is orange and/or black.

CCC are a well turned-out squadra. Photo©Martin Williamson
CCC are a well turned-out squadra. Photo©Martin Williamson

The stage start was in Tirano where we headed to get some pre-race ‘sound bites.’

En route we spied Garmin-Cannondale’s DS Charly Wegelius, one of the ‘good guys.’

Polite, approachable, grounded and with a good line in humour.

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Charly Wegelius always has time for a chat with us. Photo©Martin Williamson

It was an ‘off the record’ chat but when we asked him if the new Twitter/Facebook/bearded generation of pros ‘live the life’ of a professional rider, he told us;

“Some think they do but they don’t – when ex-pros like me explain things to them they think we’re being old fashioned.

“But the same rules still apply; train lots, sleep well, eat well – but stay skinny.”

When you’ve not been to a Giro partenza for a while, you forget how noisy it all is – the kids, the dancers, the speaker, the band…

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The sign-on is a good place to see the riders relaxing and catching up with friends. Photo©Martin Williamson

And there was a guy there demonstrating wooden bikes – I don’t think they’d be the answer in damp old Scotia.

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A wooden bike – it might just catch on. Photo©Ed Hood

In GB we have Wiggo’s personal photographer who’s trying to be a Paul Weller tribute act.

In stylish Italia you’d think the photogs would maybe go for a Giorgio Armani look – or maybe to emulate a famous sportsman.

Nope.

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It’s the ‘Hair Bear Bunch’ look that does it for this boy. Photo©Martin Williamson
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In the Giro you have stylish photographers too… Photo©Martin Williamson

The entrance to the sign on is a cool place to lurk for pictures, every rider will have to pass, sooner or later – from Trek’s Marco Coledan last @ 4:31:53 (which is a whole stage down) to the Capo himself.

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The sign-on stage – a great place to catch riders. Photo©Martin Williamson
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Adam Hansen told us at the start that he would try to get in the break of the day. Photo©Martin Williamson
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Fabio Aru signs on to huge cheers and applause.. Photo©Martin Williamson
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BMC’s Atapuma at the start. Photo©Martin Williamson
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Contador is all smiles at the start, and rightly so. Photo©Martin Williamson

Contador isn’t a big man but he has aura and presence which perhaps doesn’t manifest itself in the magazines or TV; but when you’re near him, there’s an air of respect and reverence around with the young pros – no one invades Alberto’s space.

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Stone last and out the back at this early stage, Lotto’s Moreno Hoffland. Photo©Martin Williamson
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Elia Viviani at the start. Photo©Martin Williamson
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We chat to Simon Clarke at his bus. Photo©Martin Williamson
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Dima Konyshev teases Paolo Bettini about his ‘skid lid’. Photo©Martin Williamson
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A soundbite from auld pal, Sky’s Dario Cioni. Photo©Martin Williamson

Next up we headed up on to the Teglio climb, ‘only’ third cat but a beast of a thing.

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The leading three pass us. Photo©Martin Williamson

Six Day star, Iljo Keisse was with Italians Berlato and Bandiera – with Uran’s race well and truly sunk the sponsors will want to see some sort of show…

We’d learn later that Iljo & Co. stayed clear until 30 K to. – so not a bad effort.

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Iljo Keisse keeps the wheel. Photo©Martin Williamson
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Bert’s troops keep the move pegged. Photo©Martin Williamson

When we entered our wee bar it was Lotto’s Adam Hansen on the promised solo mission but with Mezgec, Nizzolo, Viviani and Modolo still there in the peloton he was always doomed.

Paolini tried a late flyer but when those sprinters are hungry…

We’re in Suisse tonight, be nice to bump into some FiFA boys needing some good press – but we’d be above that…

How much did you say, pal?

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The view as we awaited the race today. Photo©Martin Williamson