Today's Gazzetta in Cesano Maderno has Emanuele Sella's little face smiling out at us with a headline that makes a play on his name: "S(T)ELLA" = star. Life is so much easier when Germans don't win stages! Inside, a headline says; "Bruseghin da podio. Di Luca si arrende." I ask our hotelier what 'arrende' means; he slumps his shoulders, drops his arms to his side, puts his head to one side and let's his tongue hang out - yes, we can understand the translation.
Paolo Savoldelli 10 out of 10, Danilo Di Luca 9.5 out of 10: the Gazzetta gave Friday to LPR - and so they should. Stage racing at it's best; even if Contador wins on Sunday in Milano, Di Luca can hold his head high. Ricco gets a 9; if he can keep his feet on the ground then he must surely win a giro - but not this one. Contador on 6.5; as Diquigiovanni's DS, Savio told us yesterday; "Perhaps Contador will have a bad day."
Buon giorno di Legnano! Another German stage win and the Gazzetta front page says - "three days of truth waiting to attack Contador" - old Jens doesn't get so much as a mention until the fourth page of Giro reports, deep in the paper - like I said yesterday, the Italians just love the Germans winning their tappas...
Today we were in Mendrisio but we belled Viktor from Verbania last night... We were feeling quite mellow; words and pics sent, a nice plate of pasta, a glass of beer and a stroll by Maggiore in the warm air. "The only reason I watch the race is because there's nothing else on TV, those photos you take are holiday snaps, Sella looks like a schoolboy, 'certain of the GB rider's' aren't proper pros, the scenery is terrible... "
The girl in the petrol station 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."
Rest Day at the Giro d'Italia 2008... "When you hear the tootin' of the whistle, you never have to guess; it's Casey at the throttle of the Cannonball Express" - Dave and I were just debating the lyrics of the Casey Jones 60's TV programme, if anyone can give us the full lyrics, we'd be much obliged. Sorry, on long transfer drives like this, you get to talking about all sorts of things.
The balcony from our digs has the most perfect views you can imagine. It was a hassle to find, but now that we're here it's simply magnificent, it's like looking out of a plane, we're so high and the view across the valley is so spectacular. The Plan de Corones stage made for great TV and if we'd had mountain bikes with us and no deadlines to worry about it would have been great to be up there on the dirt section.
"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglay," Rabbie Burns must have had a premonition about the Giro when he wrote that. It should have been a short hop over the Pordoi Pass from the digs to the start at Arabba to Marmolada. The jobsworth policeman at the top of the Pordoi settled our hash though; "No, you stop now, road closed, no journalists, only team cars!" Aye, cheers pal, you'll soon get that job you want in the riot squad, bludgeoning students. Sorry..., I was ranting, wasn't I?
Another long one, from Verona, it's 11.35 pm local time, Saturday and we're still in this pizzeria at Pozza di Fassa. The stage finished down on schedule and by the time we walked off the mountain; got set up in the press room, fired the pics away, completed the words, drove here, found the hotel and checked in, it was well after 10.00. The hotel is nice, this is ski country and the Austrian border isn't far away so it's all chalets, wide eaves and timber - very picturesque.
Ciao ! Ciao ! It's 9.30 pm here in Verona, city of opera, Romeo and Juliet and Stage 14 of the 2008 Giro., from Modena. We're sitting outside our hotel with our "welcome drink" - not a bad beer, as it happens. It's been a long one - up at 03.30 am; car to Turnhouse; Easyjet to Stanstead; Ryanair to Brescia with two screeching Essex girls in the seats in front of us, then hire car to Verona.
One of VeloVeritas’ functions it seems is unlocking the memories of those stalwarts – like our own mentor and soothsayer, Viktor and indeed, our editor Martin - who beat a path in the 70’s and 80’s to the legendary Mrs. Deene’s boarding house in Gent (and later in Zomergem) to show those Belgies how it should be done. The latest epistle which came our way was from Norman Gower.
When Scottish Cycling Endurance Coach and seven times Scottish Road Race Champion, Evan Oliphant gets in touch to tell us there’s a junior rider named Callum Thornley that we should be speaking to, we snap to attention.
When Jos Ryan of the David Rayner Fund gets in touch then we know it’s not just to ask how we are. ‘Have you been keeping up with our rider, Toby Perry’s performances in Spain, he’s just had his second win?’ Fortunately for us, we could reply in the affirmative.
If you watched Stage One of the Giro on Eurosport or GCN then you’ll have heard that someone had the great idea to recruit British professional rider, Dan Bigham to join the commentary team as a ‘chrono specialist.’ Here at VeloVeritas we thought it would be good to put to Dan all those sad questions that trouble bike obsessives like us.
John Watson started racing at 18 years-of-age in 1966, his first race was a ‘25’ which he won with a 1:00. By the following year he was National ‘100’ Champion; in 1968 he went to the Mexico Olympics; in 1969 he set a 12 hour record which stood for a decade; 1970 saw him set a ‘50’ record which sliced nearly four minutes of the previous fastest time for the distance and lasted for 13 years, win the BBAR, get fourth place in the prestigious GP de France time trial and get offered a place with ACBB.