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Giro d’Italia – Day 6: Stage 17, Sondrio – Locarno


The girl in the petrol station in Sondrio where we just filled up, was stunningly beautiful – I sent Dave back in to buy Coke, so he could see her; why don’t they have girls like her in the filling station at Wester Hailes?

The Gazzetta is on my lap as we head for ‘partenza’ in Sondrio. Even though you can’t speak Italian, you can get the jist of most of what’s being said; “Sorpresa Van Den Broeck, delusione Savoldelli.”

The stats are great too, ideal for saddos like us, particularly the ‘rating so far’ – “Bert” on 9 out of 10 and “The Killer” way back on 5; he won’t like that!

The view from the digs.

It: was beautiful where we stayed last night – Valdidentro, one of the up market ski valleys, nestling below the Stelvio Pass. In the summer they go big on mountain biking and walking to grab some revenue at what is for them the ‘off’ season.

Riccardo Ricco chats to his friends before the bunch rolls out.

The plan today was twofold, get more pics of bikes, for pieces we have planned and do a feature on the fans roadside.

The bike pics worked out just fine, but crazy fans were thin on the ground.

Sella fans – they would be disappointed after the race.

The fans idea probably wasn’t the best, given that a big chunk of the stage was in Switzerland. What is it Harry Lime says, in the ‘Third Man?’ – “Five hundred years of peace, and what have the Swiss given the world? – the cuckoo clock!

The children get to leave school for the race passing – and really get into the festa spirit..

The folks roadside were interested polite ‘civilians’ rather than rabid tifosi. Dave was just saying that it’s typical of when you take a Tour outside of it’s national boundaries – it then ceases to be that Tour. Sometimes, of course, it generates huge interest, like when the Tour visited London, but on a lot of other occasions, it just doesn’t work.

Lake Como.

It was all too easy to get a ‘hing spot’ (vantage point; when translated from Fife dialect) on the barriers well inside the last kilometre. When I was at the Tour prologue in Strasbourg, there were folks booking their spot at 06.00 am.

Lake Lugano.

The organisation seems shakier than last year and one thing that wouldn’t happen on the Tour is that they allow normal traffic on the roads between the publicity caravan and the race – if you are on the corsa between the caravan and the race, you have to be very careful, with vans and buses hurtling towards you in typical demented Italian fashion.

Dave adds another rider to his Facebook friends.

Moans over! To be here, chatting to Mark Cavendish, driving the race route, being part of the Giro – it’s marvellous.

At the moment we’re on the road running south alongside Lake Maggiore to our hotel at Verbania. it’s very much like the old road up Loch Lomond, faithfully hugging every twist and turn of the shore.

What we would call in Shetland, a “flat calm”.

It’s beautiful, with the lake and the mountains beyond over to our left and wooded hiils on our right. The villages are picture post card perfect, with pan tiled roofs, ancient bell towers and bars that just make you want to stop and go in.

I’ve stayed in Verbania before, you can take the ferry to the Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s Island), it used to be a haunt of Hemingway’s and despite the tourists, it’s cool.

Anyway, enough of the ‘Holiday Programme’ stuff!

Tomorrow’s stage is rated ** ‘difficolta’ by the Gazzetta and has a real ‘saw tooth’ profile, including two laps of what will be the circuit for the Worlds, in September. A break could go tomorrow, but Cav and Greipel’s boys will be on a high after today, so they’ll chase hard.

A well-organised Team High Road delivered their two sprinters to the front with perfect timing.

‘Benna’s’ Liquigas won’t be so willing to pour out the watts, though. Pellizotti is in 5th place, just 2’05” down on ‘Bert’ and only 44 seconds away from Gibo’s third spot on the podium.

They also have up and coming Vincenzo Nibali (aka ‘The Shark’ – I don’t make them up, I just tell you what they are!) in 11th spot. He’ll want to go top ten, so ‘Benna’ won’t have the luxury of a full squad throwing themselves into the fray, like Cav and Greipel do.

Nearly at Verbania and I can taste my pasta! Buona notte.

Ciao tutti.
Ed Hood
Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 47 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, a team manager, and a sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days for some of the world's top riders. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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