Nothing like a wholesome breakfast to start the day.
Sugar was the theme ingredient for our morning banquet with bowls of chocolate, lollypops and marshmallows, alongside olive oil-soaked focaccia and an assortment of pastries.
The first spot of the day was along the first climb, Colla di Velva (cat 3). I had scoped the location on Google maps, and it wasn't long before I could see what I though was the town. What I didn't realise was that there were a series of these towns, along the climb, that were almost exact duplicates of each other.
We selected the second town and soon there were press cars pulling up and photographers everywhere, looking for the best angles from this quaint little hill-side village. The spot I chose required carefully negotiating a small ledge at the top of a stairway, while holding a fence post and leaning out over the road.
As I was waiting for the riders I noticed a slight stinging coming from my legs, like something was biting me. I checked to see if there was anything there, but it all looked fine, so I just put up with it until the riders had passed.
On my way back to the parking spot my legs really started to burn, and were turning bright red. Not yet savvy to what was happening I washed my legs with a bottle of water and it seemed to help. Later I discovered I had just had my first brush with poison ivy (which was, apparently, introduced to Italy in the 1600s as, of all things, a medicinal plant - and is thought to have been largely eradicated since).
Back on the road, we aimed to reach the final climb before the finish. It was a long shot as the riders had to pass though the town of La Spezia beforehand – and with towns come multiple road blocks.
The first couple weren’t a problem, but there is one English word that Italians use, “impossible”, that, when you hear it you know there is no amount of negotiation that will help change their mind.
Fortunately, we still had time to catch the finish.
By the time we got to the little of town Tellaro (where we were staying), the sun had already started to dip below the horizon. We decide to take a walk down to the waterfront before settling in behind the laptop screen for the evening.
There is the most amazing church right on the water of this rickety little seaside town. A local at our restaurant tells us of a story about an octopus that rang the church bell to warn the sleeping sailors of pirates invading the town.
Ironically, the signature dish is a seafood pasta with baby octopus. What a way to treat a local hero…
The racing was fantastic today. Bravo to local young gun, and guaranteed-to-soon-be Italian celebrity, Davide Formolo on his incredible ride. It was fantastic to see the race blow out, after a bold, European-style attack, which had everyone gritting their teeth. Perfectly timed too, with Formolo just holding off a fast-finishing bunch of race favourites for his first professional win.
Congratulations also to Simon Clarke, who climbed into the pink leader’s jersey after a spitting-and-snarling-like effort to get back into the main group and then taking the sprint for second.
See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.