Stage 18 started in Melide, Switzerland. I arrived at sign-up in the hope of capturing some Swiss-inspired imagery, but left largely empty-handed. There wasn't much to work with other than a couple of flags, a miniature Swiss village and some assorted Assos jerseys. With a couple of shots in the bag we left the start early and crossed back over the border almost straight away.
Back on Italian soil our first spot for the day would be the town of Porto Ceresio, where there was a nice angle of the peloton negotiating the narrow streets and traffic furniture.
Zooming off in a precession of cars the GPS was set to get us in front of the peloton. Instead, we ended up stuck in traffic down a side street. Others were getting out of their cars to investigate – and I smelt trouble. However, just as I was looking for alternative routes the congestion cleared and we were off again.
We hit the autostrada before discovering, just as we were clawing back time, that the exit we needed was closed. Luckily we slowed down to take a closer look, as this prompted a man to mysteriously appear (we couldn’t work out from where) to move the witches hats and allow us through.
Back on track to make it to the climb before the riders (and catch all the action), we drove up the 10km climb dodging riders and spectators who were getting excited about everything that moved.
Arriving at the summit, the view back down to the lake was amazing. However, the road was very narrow and parking limited. We found a spot just over the top amongst the team cars, with soigneurs assembled to give the riders one last hit of fuel before the finish. We walked back up to the top and found a couple of locations.
On a climb like Olongo the riders are almost always spread out, so you need to find lots of different angles. Otherwise you end up with 200 versions of the same shot!
So, as soon as the first few riders had disappeared over the top, I was running around like crazy getting this angle then back the other way for another until the last rider was through.
The drive back down along the tiny, narrow road filled with hundreds of cyclist, walkers and scooters was not for the faint-hearted. Squeezing though gaps while people were passing on both sides was incredibly chaotic. Finally, we made it to the bottom in one piece.
The accommodation wasn’t far and we were just settling in, uploading photos and editing, when I head a strange commotion coming from outside.
I looked out the window and the saw the road that had been blocked with Giro traffic just moments earlier, was now filled with a mixture of sheep, goats and cows. Cars and motorbikes stopped dead as they where engulfed by a tide of livestock.
I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera and running downstairs to catch the spectacle.
I started shooting, when all of a sudden a lamb escaped and – because I was in the way – it couldn’t get back. A well trained sheep dog knew exactly what to do and before long the lamb was back in the grupo compacto.
Later, as we were retelling the story to the owner of the restaurant across the road, we discovered that this was only an annual migration – so we were lucky to see it.
See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.