Stage 17: Aprica – Lugano
Stage 17: Aprica – Lugano
Wednesday, 27th May 2015
Wednesday, 27th May 2015

After yesterday's big riding-and-photography effort, I was keen for a hearty breakfast. Unfortunately, the scene at the hotel buffet could only politely be described as ‘minimalist'.

 

As it turned out, we happened to be staying at the same hotel as (what looked like) the entire motorcycle fleet for the Giro - and it seemed they had got to the buffet first. The only things left were a couple of pastries and some warm yogurt. Fortunately we didn't have to pay for it.

 

We packed our bags and checked out. As we were leaving we saw the hotel staff busily decorating bicycles with pink ribbons and balloons as the race would soon be passing by.

 

We headed for the start line (in the town of Tirano), making a quick stop at a local cafe to make up for buffet-gate.

 

The sign-on area was full of fans trying their best to flag down any rider they could, in the hope of a quick autograph.

Our first location was the impressive church in the main square. We drove ahead of the race start in order to get setup in time, catching the riders as they passed the church within the neutral zone.

Our next stop was the famous (and equally infamous) Lago di Como. Shooting here, however, turned out to be much harder than expected, and we ended up missing the lake altogether (because the angles just didn’t do it justice).

 

Fortunately, the riders also passed Lago di Lugano and I had spotted a few places on Google Maps, so we headed off in that direction.

 

After more fruitless searching, the last location we visited was, thankfully, perfect. I climbed up a set of stairs to get a higher angle on the road.

 

The stairs also happened to lead to the entrance of a woman’s home and, sure enough, she popped her head out to see what all the fuss was about.

 

The house had another level, with an even better view. So I politely asked If we could shoot there. She was more than happy to let us in.

There was a sign on her gate that read ‘Attenti al Cane’ with a picture of an Alsatian – barking aggressively. A little worried by the sign, we made our way inside.

 

When the pooch finally did come running up to greet us, we were relieved. Truthfully, it was more miniature Lassie than Inspector Rex.

Done for the day, we headed towards our accommodation and the start of tomorrow’s stage, across the border in Switzerland.

 

This was our first time on Swiss soil. Driving through the first town of Lugano it was immediately apparent that we weren’t in Italy anymore.

Nothing summed it up quite like the hand gestures of the police, controlling traffic, as all the lights had been set to flashing orange.

 

In Italy the polizia have white paddles with a red circle, and they wave them with the same vigorous enthusiasm as all their other every-day hand gestures.

 

In contrast, the Swiss wear white gloves and look more like they are conducting an orchestra than directing traffic.

 

Because of the change of country our Italian SIM card was no longer any use, so the GPS was our only guide. This was not usually a problem, unless, of course, half the roads were closed, leaving us scrambling for an alternate route.

 

And that was how we found ourselves in the right lane, zooming past a long line of patiently queuing drivers turning left, when all of a sudden the GPS decided that we should turn left as well…

 

The police officer was politely motioning for us to proceed straight ahead. However, much to his dismay, we decided instead to left from the wrong lane. The look of disappointment on his face was palpable. We certainly weren’t in Italy anymore.

 

The chaos of the drive was forgotten once we reached the hotel – where, located on the counter, we discovered a giant bowl of Swiss chocolate, just waiting to to be devoured.

 

The receptionist went off to photocopy our documents, leaving the bowl suddenly vulnerable to hungry travellers.

 

She returned and asked me a few questions, which I answered through a mouth stuffed-full of chocolate. She smiled knowingly – I guess I wasn’t the first.

See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.

Stage 21: Turin - Milan
Stage 15: Marostica - Madonna Di Campiglio

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Join Beardy McBeard and his caravan as he chases some of cycling’s biggest races around the world. Get a new perspective on this beautiful sport through Beardy's iconic photos and the stories behind them. You can also purchase the prints!

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