On a typical day chasing the Maglia Rosa we wake up at 8:30am, shower, get dressed, and then try to scrounge a decent breakfast - the most important meal of the day. Today, however, we had the pleasure of staying in a bed and breakfast, and our host cooked up a big plate of scrambled eggs with salami. It's a surprisingly good combination, a local staple, and something I just might continue to cook myself.
On a side note - I'm not sure why, but the eggs in Italy are extremely yellow, while the butter is white.
After a hearty breakfast, we spend some time on the computer discussing the schedule for the day and looking to identify interesting locations on Google maps.
Our last task is to check over the camera gear, clean the lenses, format the cards and replace the charged batteries. Then we pack the car and hit the bricks.
We usually head straight to the starting line. Today we parked in the press-designated area, which is usually (and helpfully) orientated for a fast getaway on the race route.
With rain on the radar it was a good chance to get some shots of the riders preparing for a wet day. Rain jackets, caps, scarves, clear lenses and shoe covers were pulled from team buses as the riders looked to cover up from the elements. Deep down, I’m certain the riders were happy that the wettest stage so far would also be the shortest (clocking in at 147km).
Once we are finished photographing the start, we hop back in the car and, using a combination of race handbook, Google maps, GPS, serendipity and black magic, try to figure out the best route. The pressure is always on, as the peloton thunders across the course, leaving little margin for error (or wrong turns).
Today we drove a section of the autostrade to get in front of the riders, then got back on the course to look for locations. Unfortunately, today didn’t offer up much, so instead we pushed through most of the rest of the race route before heading to shoot the finish.
Lunch is, more often than not, a packet of grissini and some fruit – unless we are luckily enough to have the time for a quick bite from a bar along the way. The race usually finishes around 5pm, followed by presentations, before scrambling to get some shots of the riders (and their teams) as it all gets packed down.
Today we got to the finish early, and I hustled a good spot near the line. As the bunch sprint thundered down the straight I was able to get some nice shots of the Italian 1-2-3 finish – with Sacha Modolo taking line honours. Aru crossed the line shortly afterwards, looking much cheerier than yesterday, with no sign of Contador. The day really did belong to the Italians, with Aru, the local hero, claiming the leader’s pink jersey as a consequence. The huge grin said it all – and the crowd went nuts. Later I found out about the crash only 200m from the 3km mark that cost Contador (and Richie Porte) so dearly. Unlucky stage 13, it would seem.
After the presentations are complete we head back to the car to go looking for our accommodation. Depending on how far we are staying from the finish I often start to download and edit images in the car. Once we find our accommodation it becomes all about the search for food and, of course, a glass or two of vino.
Tonight we found a place just 4 minutes walk from our accommodation, serving up fresh-made pasta and good local wine. Delizioso!
I’m back to work by about 10pm, finishing up the photo editing, setting up instagram posts, replying to emails and writing these charming little anecdotes :).
A day on the caravan ends around 1am with lights out. We sleep like logs.
See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.