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Tag: Giro d’Italia 2011
'Tutti per Vincenzo' said the Gazzetta, on Sunday. 'All for Vincenzo' - but that little blighter from Madrid put paid to that. We got the benefit from the mad breenge after Saturday's stage - the Messina start was just five minutes from the hotel and it gave us time to have a wee skek at the porto, before we headed to Etna.
Just one stage to go - I'll miss the race, the coffee, the weather, the Gazzetta - but not the time spent sitting in the car, before, during and after stages. Saturday was a monstro - Salerno was where we spent the night; we had a two hour drive to the start, then a 217 kilometre stage followed by a mad breenge to the Sicily ferry, on the very toe of the Italian boot. At least the ferry was very straightforward, no dramas; and we did get a chat with Paolo Bettini - a nice guy.
We're on the percorso early, today. Montevergine is the destination - the first real mountain top finish of the Giro. At the top it's 1,260 metres above sea level, it's 17.1 K long with a total altitude gain of 856 metres, average gradient 5% and maximum gradient 10%. It's always good to 'work the start' - get some pictures and quotes in the 90 minutes or so between the team buses arriving and the roll out but today we just don't have time.
Viktor wouldn't like it here, the cobbles are big flat things and the locals all dress trendily - not a pair of Belgian basket weave shoes or a tank top in sight. And the fans don't come straight up to you and ask you a string of questions, once they realise you're not a local. And wine? What the hell is that? But it has it's compensations - hill top towns, nice weather, pretty girls, pizza... and grappa.
We slept like logs last night - maybe it was the fact that we were emotionally drained or maybe it was the grappa we had for a nightcap? We stayed in Cecina, on the Ligurian Sea, roughly half way between the Stage 4 finish in Ligorno and the stage 5 start today in Piombino. The season hasn't started yet on the Ligurian, it kicks off in June; over on the east coast the Adriatic season has already begun and they'll be out there on their sun loungers as I write this.
It's Giro time again! Getting to Venaria Reale wasn't too bad - Edinburgh to Malpensa Airport in Milan on Easyjet; pick up the hire car and head west towards Torino. We decided that rather than brave Friday night rush hour traffic, we'd stay in Chivasso, around 20 K from Torino. A wise decision, Torino was overflowing with 'Alpini' - Italian mountain troops, past and present - for their annual 'beano.' The day after the TTT the Gazzetta reckoned that there were one million people on the streets of the city - we believe it.