It was a privilege to be there and great to be part of it all on the Finestre on Stage 20; a marvelous spectacle on the ‘sterrato‘ without doubt – but is it sport or simply a circus?
The cameras love it and it’s great copy – maybe I’m being too harsh?
Paris-Roubaix throws back to the old days so why not have stages like this, many would say?
Albeit I still say there were too many mountain days in the race, just too hard.
The Giro is a marvelous race but it’s not the Tour – nothing is, can or will ever be.
The Italian race organisers have decided that if they can’t match/best the French race on organisation, prestige and scale then their race will be the toughest around.
They’ve achieved that.
We had an ‘interesting’ day; we got lost multiple times because we were early on the road and couldn’t follow the percorso through one way systems – the wrong way – or because we were ahead of the route crews.
We finally took to the motorway, paid the mad toll charges and arrived at the foot of the Colle Delle Finestre to find it was closed to ALL traffic except police, organisation and team vehicles.
Plan B saw us hightail it to the Sestriere finish the long way round and go up the Finestre from the ‘wrong’ side.
There’s absolutely no way we could have done that in France – the roads are locked down early and NOTHING except the police goes against race direction – but we thought with this being Italia…
We parked the VV VW 20 metres from the top and had a celebratory coffee with grappa.
The crowd was huge and largely good natured; our wee car – with the exception of team cars – was the only motor up there, everyone else had either pedaled or walked up from a bus park about three K down.
There’s a monument to Danilo Di Luca as the first man to breast the climb, a decade ago.
The ‘sterrato’ is about the same as the fire roads you’d find in a Scottish forrest – it’s not tarmac but it’s not too bad and we didn’t witness a single puncture.
Landa was motoring and so too was Aru. I’m not of the, “everyone is still kitting” school of thought but Aru’s recovery to win two stages surprises me – when you’re cooked in a race like this, you’re cooked.
A tough shift for Alberto – he was distanced within our field of vision and by the end had conceded 2:25 to Aru.
The drop off the Finestre is technical then the climb to Sestriere is horrible – wide, long straight, not a good place to be having a bad day.
But Contador didn’t panic, weathered the storm and barring disasters has the 2015 Giro won.
Aru’s stock is now sky high and with Nibali, Italy now was two men who can win a Grand Tour.
At the other end of the ‘Classifica Generale’ last man on the stage – on the same time as big track power house Roger Kluge @ 53:30 – was Trek’s Coledan who now anchors the race @ 6:40:13.
You can’t help but admire Kluge, he’s a big man and every day he lines up on these mountain stages he knows it’s another journey into Hell – respect !
We’re driving from Sestriere to Torino just now, the last tappa then the plane home, tomorrow.
All good things…