Saturday, May 28, 2022
HomeDiariesGiro d'Italia 2010 - Day One, Arrivo in Viareggio!

Giro d’Italia 2010 – Day One, Arrivo in Viareggio!


Ciao, come sta? Viareggio on the west coast of Italy, 06:30 Saturday May 15 and VeloVeritas is on the Giro – well, not quite, we have our credentials to collect from the Gazzetta camper van, this morning at the stage start in Carrara. The trip down wasn’t too bad, Edinburgh to Luton, then Luton to Pisa – there was an hour’s delay at Luton, but we were on Easyjet, so no one gets too stressed.

Albeit there was a nasty moment at the security check in Luton – “the transparent plastic bag you have your toiletries in is too big, sir’ said the official.

Initially, we laughed, the boy has a sense of humour we thought, but not a bit of it, he was deadly serious.

Eventually I dragged Martin away; ‘he’s stressed, been up since 04:30,’ I explained to our new chum.

We figure he’s unmarried, lives with his mum and dad and has a Hornby train set in the loft – and the wee locos have lights, sounds and the optional ‘steam puffing’ feature.

At Pisa we decided to have a quick look to make sure the tower was still there – photo opportunity taken, it was time to get ourselves to where we are now.

We’re in Pisa, so we need to go see if we can help straighten the tower. Photo©Ed Hood
But we weren’t able to make much difference. Photo©Ed Hood

“Viareggio has never been anything other than what it is – a purpose built seaside resort,’ says the Rough Guide; for all that, it’s clean, friendly and an easy place to get a good pizza at a sane price.

But I have to watch the ‘holiday postcard’ stuff, I’m on a warning from Viktor and Willie Barr reckons I spewed out more ash than the Icelandic volcano, from Trinidad – but he didn’t call it ash.

Today isn’t a day to win the Giro, but it’s certainly one where you can lose it.

It’s a long stage with the last climb on the white gravel of the strade bianche.

All the Heads will be well aware of this and fighting to be at the front when tarmac gives way to dust.

Only it might not be dust, I was out for an early stroll to find coffee and a Gazzetta – unsuccessful on both counts – and it’s cool and drizling, outside.

It could be a really decisive stage in those conditions.

Nibali has been around a long time and promising greatness, all the while.

A medal in the junior worlds TT way back in 2002 at Zolder; GP Plouay in ’06; five wins in ’07 including the Giro di Toscana; the Giro del Trentino in ’08; the GP Camaiore and a strong Tour with 7th on GC in ’09.

Nibali has been promising for quite a while. Photo©Ed Hood

He hit the ground running for 2010 with a win in the San Luis stage race in Argentina and despite his coming to the Giro at short notice to replace Pellizotti – out with ‘vitamin’ problems – ‘The Shark’ as they call him, is obviously in great shape.

Can he win, who can beat him?

Sitting happily in second place, the pressure on his young team mate, is Ivan Basso.

Last year was promising, after two years out – will this be the year that he goes back to riding cols with his mouth shut, looking like he’s on the way to the paper shop, again?

Basso is having a better year this year. Photo©Martin Williamson

Those days are gone for ever; but there’s no doubting that he’s in a good situation and Liquigas are well aware that they shouldn’t burn out that strong team of theirs before that brutal last week.

Sastre has to be a favourite when it’s long, hot, hilly and tough; that 2:13 he’s down at the moment shouldn’t be too much of a worry in the third week when the peaks rear and the physical and mental exertions of three weeks of racing begin to tell on those not as tough as the man from Avilla.

Last year he won two hard, hard stages in this race whilst using it as a ‘tune up’ for an ultimately fruitless Tour campaign.

Word is that this year he’s decided that the Tour will be a death race – with Armstrong, Contador, the Schlecks – and is putting all his eggs in the Giro basket.

Karpets, at 39 seconds, looks strong, maybe he’s back to the form of 2007 where he won the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, Volta a Alentejo, Vuelta a la Rioja, Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Suisse?

Vlad to VeloVeritas; ‘mullets ARE cool where I come from’. Photo©Katusha

The last two years have been lean for the big Russian and a wage cut looms if he doesn’t top up those palmares.

Evan is at 1:59 and obviously in good shape, he’s had the pink jersey on his back, won the Fleche and seems highly motivated – just a shame he has no team.

And there’s the name that cannot be spoken, ‘the durty kazak’ as one rider I know refers to him.

Vino is back, and with a ‘bang!’

Vino, back with a bang. Photo©l’Equipe

He’s at 33 seconds and despite his tendency to have a bad day in Grand Tours, don’t forget that this is a man who was winning quality stage races 13 seasons ago – Dunkirk, 1998 – and has a Vuelta win under his belt from 2006.

Today’s blast up the gravel is right up his street and he could be back in pink, tonight.

And what of Simoni?

With a deficit of 22:10 he certainly doesn’t need to worry about the heads chasing him if he gets in a break.

Anyway, that’s us just about in Carrara to get our creds – and hopefully a coffee.

A domani!

Ed Hood and Martin Williamson
Ed Hood and Martin Williamson
Ed and Martin, our top team! They try to do the local Time Trials, the Grand Tours and the Classics together to get the great stories written, the quality photos taken, the driving done and the wifi wrestled with.

Related Articles

United Nations of Awesome

United Nations of Awesome. Boombah! Or, as we like to pretend that the Italians say, Opahhh! So the last post I put through (earlier today) was 16km from the finish, and included a series of “hopefullys” all of which came to pass, meaning we won today! A great result for the team, and a super performance by the team.

The Giro d’Italia 2010: Good Times Bad Times

Good Times Bad Times - CIAO! The Giro d’Italia version 2010 has begun. We started racing up in Amsterdam (which, while not technically* part of Italy, was a cool place to start racing from) with a time trial, followed by two road stages. The start of a Grand Tour is always cool — the whole team starts to find extra gears, and the organisation is singing by start time.

Stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia 2010 – Redux

Apologies for not updating the site for a little while folks - we've both been very busy with our day jobs. Ed has been clearing the decks before heading over to Italy to cover the Giro d'Italia shortly, and so to get us in the mood we thought you'd enjoy revisiting one of our diary articles from Stage 11 of last year's race, a 262km haul from Lucera to L'Aquila, when a break of over 50 riders threatened to overturn the race completely...

Kris Withington – Garmin Transitions Mechanic

If mountain biking is your thing, and you're not really into road bikes, how - and why - would you end up working as a mechanic for a ProTour team? We met Garmin Transisions mechanic Kris Withington recently on the Giro d'Italia, chewin' the fat at the start of Stage 12 in Citta Sant'Angelo, and so we thought it would be great to find out the answer to that question, and discover a little more about this Giro, as well as life on the road with a top professional team.

Giro d’Italia 2010 – Into Double Figures

We're into double figures. We’re now deep into the Giro, Day 10 in fact, and the cracks are starting to show! Firstly, there was a horrific incident of five of the team’s staff getting on the wrong side of some VERY raw, yet delicious steak, which fortunately didn’t lead to a team-wide outbreak of GIT problems. Thank goodness for Universal Precautions! Secondly (and as ever, less importantly) the riders are now in the hurt basket pretty much permanently.

Giro d’Italia 2010 – Day Seven, Thoughts on That Break

We've completed our stint at the Giro d'Italia 2010, but 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.

At Random

David Gibson – Five Decades of Winning

David Gibson is one of those guys that seems to never have stopped, although in reality it's been few years since he last raced. To be fair it seems reasonable for him to at last ease up a bit although he takes full advantage of the early morning drop-in sessions at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome to keep himself in shape.

E.V. Ernie Mitchell – R.I.P.

We learnt recently that Ernie Mitchell, or 'E.V.' as he was known, Scottish star of the 1950's has passed away. As a tribute to him we thought we would re-run the interview he gave us last year where he told us about being the first man in the country to break the two-hour mark for 50 miles, virtually owning the pursuit crown and motor pacing behind his brother's bus ...

The VV View: That Was the Week…

"A week is a long time in politics," said Harold Wilson - even longer at the wheel of a Transit; still, I'm sure that my column in L'Equipe isn't far away, now. Lombardia was great, I love that race, and Milan - San Remo too; do yourself a favour, go and see them - you'll thank me. However, all is not well up in the land of mountains and lakes.

Nolan Hoffman – “My aspirations now are on the track”

The current flag bearer for black track cycling Nolan Hoffman, hails from South Africa - and there's irony in that, given the vile apartheid regime which ruled the country for so long.

Le Tour ’11, Stage 11 – a wet start, typical Pyrenean thunderstorm

It was a very warm evening yesterday, and we wandered back round to the hotel last night after our dinner in the middle of a typical Pyrenean thunderstorm - huge bolts of lightning searing across the sky and claps of thunder which lingered and reverberated for what seemed like 20 seconds. In the space of 5 minutes, the roads were flooded. We went to sleep in our "pod" room to the sound of pouring rain, and woke up to the same - only worse. It wasn't a nice day to be outside, let alone reporting on, or riding, a bike race.

Aidan Duff – Part One; Six Years Racing in France, Victories and Voeckler

Continuing on our recent Irish theme we caught up with Aidan Duff, former Vendee U professional and now owner of Fifty One Cycles – building bespoke carbon frames. 'Fifty One?' we hear you say... The race number for Merckx, Ocana, Thevenet and Hinault when they won the Tour de France. With tales of Jean Rene Bernadeau, Tommy Voeckler and building custom carbon – not ‘off the peg from Taiwan’ - we cover some interesting ground. Let’s go...