Giorgio Moroder’s ‘The Chase’ from Midnight Express pumps out across the Civitavecchia sea front. A huge fibre glass sculpture of a nurse succumbing to the charms of a sailor – ‘Unconditional Surrender’ it’s titled – towers over us.
The whole scene is surreal, topped off by Pippo ambling past in shorts and T-shirt.
He broke his hand yesterday and is out – but he still looks cool, pottering around Civitavecchia.
You forget how crazy the Giro can be – this is our first stage start of the year and we’re drinking it all in.
We ‘worked the sign-on,’ snapping away as the stars pedalled past, enjoying the sun before their hard graft started.
Before our snapping sesh, we visited ex-pro Roberto Petito’s place, the ‘Gran Caffe’ complete with lots of cool pics of the owner in action and good coffee.
It was nice to be back at a Giro stage start for the first time in a year – you forget how noisy and colourful it is. And so, the race departed Civitavecchia…
“Later that same day”…
3,200 metres to the finish, on the first of the two roller coasters to the line in Assisi.
We’ve just driven the stage – it’s a toughie, over rolling hills, uneven pavement, windy, 25 degree heat and a heart breaker of a finale.
There weren’t many places today where you thought; ‘mega photo opportunity’ but it was nice countryside to be driving.
When the cavalry charge arrived, the damage wasn’t as bad as we had thought it would be.
The ‘bigs’ were all there – Scarponi, Rodriguez, Kreuziger, Hesjedal, Pozzovivo, Visconti . . .
The peloton had been compatto to the bottom of the climb but as soon as the turbos kicked in at the front, the rest just rode home, with no time cut to worry about.
Cav was well back, with the Imperial Guard behind him.
We caught the stage finish back at the digs – after “wi-fi hell,” that is – Rodriguez was very impressive.
But so too was NetApp’s Bartosz Huzarski – second to the little Catalan but ahead of Visconti.
NetApp are honouring the race, no question.
Despite the screaming bairns – on a pilgrimage to Assisi – in the dining room last night, we enjoyed our meal.
That grappa to finish hit the spot – longest stage of the race tomorrow at 255 K.
We’ll talk to youz again after it.