Stage 21 - just one more day. However, getting out of bed proved difficult after a very late night working through thousands of images from Colle delle Finestre. I set off in search of a much-needed doppio.
This stage was all about the finish, with the route running through fairly flat farmland and the outer suburbs of Milano.
The start was in Turino, which was the biggest town we had been to for a while, and had a nice buzz for a Sunday. Hundreds of spectators made a long tunnel for the riders to pass through on the way to sign-in.
We headed out early to look for locations along the race route, but found only endless rice paddies and an old power plant (that looked a little like something from The Simpsons).
The route eventually brought us to the outer suburbs of Milan, full of car washes and petrol stations. Arriving at the end of the race we parked the car and started to walk the course, looking for spots close to the finish so we could make it back for the last of 7 laps around the city.
I spotted some fellow photographers sitting at an Irish-style pub, drinking Guinness pints. They called us over to join them. We tried to order coffee (we really did – this must be the only pub in Italy that doesn’t serve coffee) before settling instead for pints. I could see the race on TV and was getting rather comfortable. However, with the riders almost on the circuit, it was time to finish our beers and head off to our spots.
After a couple of passes it was time to find our way to the finish. This proved surprisingly easy, we just followed the mass of coloured bibs bristling with lenses.
On the last lap we got the green light and ran to the finish. It was around a 90 degree corner so we couldn’t see what was coming as we charged towards the press area. Team cars came screaming round the corner and only narrowly missed a pack of photographers. Then the last of the riders (finishing their penultimate lap) came flying around, again almost colliding with a sprinting press gang. It was chaos.
I made it safely to the taped-off area and double-checked my settings. Only a few seconds later the first riders came into view.
Luke Durbridge and Iljo Keisse were out the front playing cat-and-mouse for the win. I was hoping Durbridge would take the sprint, and have an Aussie climb onto the final podium, but Keisse got the better of him on the day.
The presentation area was packed with more photographers than usual, and the organisers really went to town with the ticker tape and streamers.
I was standing a bit close to the cannon that shoots the stuff into the air. I could feel it brush past the back of my head as it exploded, before dumping a bunch of coloured paper all over me and the camera.
As each of the jersey winners came up on stage the cannon fired more coloured paper and more champagne was sprayed over the photographers.
By the end of the presentations it was hard to move through the tangled mess of red, pink, gold, white and blue paper.
So that’s it for the Giro d’Italia for another year. Honestly, I can’t help but feel a little sad that I won’t be chasing the race again tomorrow.
However, Beardy’s Caravan won’t stay still for long – I’m already planning my next adventure. If you haven’t already joined the mailing list (below), please do so – we have something pretty exciting launching over the next week.
Thanks for following and, if I don’t see you on the road for a ride, I’ll see you for the next edition of Beardy’s Caravan.
See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.