Today had a bit of a different schedule as we looked to get as much as possible out of the individual time trial. The location we were targeting required us to cross the ITT course and then cross back again to set up for shooting the first riders. When we arrived at the edge of the course the Cabineri that was in charge said it was “impossible” to cross the course or drive on the closed roads. We tried everything to convince him otherwise, showed him our media passes, pointed at the race handbook, and even tried using Google translate on my phone to explain what we were doing. None of this worked.
Instead he told us that we needed to go the long way around, over a mountain pass. This would take over an hour. With the first riders due to roll out in 50 minutes, we had to find another way.
So we tried to navigate via a meandering series of backroads, featuring some of the narrowest roads yet (and that’s saying something).
Just as we were starting to make progress, and had got back to a road that could accommodate two cars, we hit another road block. I’m not sure what had been said to these people but they just didn’t want to let us through.
After much more negotiating we somehow managed to talk our way through, under strict instructions to park in the carpark and catch the shuttle bus.
We drove all the way to the course and the guy controlling the final barrier let us straight through.
The riders had already set off by this point and we were at the high point of the course. The riders had a category 3 climb to get over before they reached San Pietro di Feletto.
Sitting in the car looking out the window I could only describe the scene as dismal. The rain had set in for the day and didn’t look like it was going to budge.
As the first riders came though, I had a shot with the church and hill creating a nice backdrop, but there wasn’t much action from the crowd. However, I could hear people cheering in the distance – so I set off on foot to get a closer look.
By now, the rain was really coming down. At the 2014 Giro ITT, press cars were not allowed between the riders. Presuming the same rules applied, walking had seemed like the only option. Having said that, I really wished I had have driven. The crowd of people turned out to be a lot further away than I expected and by the time I reached them I looked terrible.
There were a couple of angles, but nothing spectacular. So, after photographing a couple of riders, I headed back to the car.
I must have walked a couple of kilometres through the mud because when I got back to the car I just crawled inside and collapsed onto the back seat. I considered calling it a day.
However, after drying off and warming up, we decided that we should check out the second location I had flagged while pouring over maps and vino at last night’s dinner.
It turned out that getting back on the course was not a problem for press vehicles after all, and we raced behind a Cannondale Garmin team car.
We could see the rider in front giving it everything he had.
Once we reached the 10 kilometre marker the crowd was huge, especially considering there was no shelter and it hadn’t stopped raining since 9.30am.
The terrain was really steep here and covered in vines.The hills had been terraced so they looked like giant green steps. It was truly beautiful, despite the miserable conditions. Setting up, I walked up and down getting as many different angles as possible.
The excitement started to grow as the helicopters came out to follow the main contenders.
After the pink skinsuit of Aru (complete with trademark tongue hanging out) came past, we quickly got back on the road and rushed to catch the presentations.
We made it down just in time to catch Contador reclaiming the pink jersey. He looked much happier than previous days on the podium and even cracked the ‘Pistolero’.
Exhausted, we returned home to dry everything off (again). Here’s hoping for some sun as we head into the mountains tomorrow.
See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.