A mostly flat stage suiting the sprinters, there was no way we could miss the finish today.
So, we decided to drive the course, en route to the finish, and see if the images revealed themselves. We had an exit strategy at around 50kms from the end of the stage, meaning this would be the last chance to make it to the finish in time.
It was all going well, we even stopped a couple of times to take in the countryside. The route passed through Tuscany so it was all rolling green hills and sculpted trees painting a very pretty postcard.
However, there was a specific shot I was after and it just didn't seem to appear, so we kept driving.
It was getting late, and the publicity caravan had long since passed. We badly needed some food before setting up to shoot – a couple of croissants and a strong coffee can only get you so far.
The exit point came up quickly so we dove into a little town called Ghirlanda. Luckily, there was a bar open. A panini with prosciutto (and an espresso to wash it down) made all the difference. Police motorbikes rushed past the front of the bar so we knew it was time to go.
As soon as we finished shooting we headed for the car, only to find it had been parked in by a series of Vespas and Apes (3-wheeled cars).
This threatened to spoil our carefully timed plan to get to the finish. I was just about to try and push them out of the way when, luckily, the owners came over to move them for us.
Time was now getting away, so we had to really push to make it to the finish. Having said that, it really is amazing what you can get away with when you have a press sticker on your car.
Fingers crossed there isn’t a pile of speeding tickets waiting for me when I get home!
Pulling into the media car park, I grabbed my camera and ran to the arrivo (finish line, but much more fun to say), only to find the riders were still over 10kms away.
I set up for the the shot and as I looked through the viewfinder I could see the sprinters speeding towards me. Click, click, click. I ran to get images of the stage winner, Andre Greipel, before the media pack engulfed him.
When Alberto Contador appeared to receive the Maglia Rosa I could see his shoulder and knees had ice packs stuffed under the lycra. I had been so focused on getting the sprint finish I had missed the crash!
Contador kept his left arm dead straight and only put the jersey over one shoulder before removing it. I could see the pain in his eyes suggesting this could be the last time he wears the pink leader’s jersey for 2015.
Only tomorrow will tell.
See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.