Thursday 08.30, Caserta, Frascati. We’re in Italy’s answer to that hotel where Jack Nicholson lost the plot in ‘The Shining’.
Huge, empty corridors, plumbing and electrics that have a mind of their own, plus the world’s most disinterested and rude staff – maybe they are zombies? Still, we were glad to lay our heads down here late last night, it was a long day.
We left Salerno yesterday around 09.00 and drove up to Mercogliano at the foot of the big climb and where the permanence was located. The press room is supposed to open at 10.00 but it was nearer 11.00 before our first pics hurtled into the ether; I think Mertin should have them up by now [I do, and they’re peppered throughout the diary now! – Editor.].
We thought we had nothing better to do than drive up the climb but it was not to be, there was no one except the police and velos going up there before the race. Our mode of transport was the funicolare (funicular); what is a ten kilometre-plus drive takes less than ten minutes as the little carriage wheechs straight up the mountainside. We were up there all afternoon.
The crowd was nothing like you would get at an equivalent Tour stage, but getting up there was a pain and this is still southern Italy; cycling heartland is further north in Tuscany and Lombardy. I think the pics we took gave a good sense of what it was all about.