Our Italian breakfasts have taken a turn for the worse – getting progressively smaller and sweeter, plus more heavily caffeinated, as the days roll on. Soon we will just have four espressos and that will be it.
Thankfully, we are not quite there yet – so we pulled in for a second breakfast at the trusty petrol station bar. Standing at the counter waiting to pay, while munching hungrily on my mortadella panini, I nearly choked when the lady behind the counter said ‘cash only’, realising I didn’t have more than a few euros and a wad of receipts in my wallet. Scraping together everything we had, I was relieved it was just enough. We now have 15 euro cents left to our names.
The Stage 9 time trial (or Chianti Classico ITT) had just started when we arrived. Appropriately, it looked as if the riders were eating pizza for breakfast, judging by the pile of boxes out the front of the bus. All that was missing was the vino (there is precedence here - with Chianti being the 'official wine' of the 2013 UCI Road World Championships - God I love Italians :)
The rain started to fall as we walked along the start of the course. Regrettably, this made it three wet Giro ITTs in a row for me. When I mentioned this fact to some Italian fans they politely requested for me to please never come back again. Great, now they think I'm some sort of bad omen...
We planned to park on a road that cut across the middle of the course, putting us in prime position at the 10km-to-go banner. That was until a forrest ranger, with an axe to grind, made us park an additional 1.5 km from this ideal location, forcing us to walk back. Usually this wouldn’t be such a big problem, however with a 5km hike already under our belts, and my Aussie rain dance working a treat, it was less than ideal. Still, I got a front-row seat as the skies went dark and the storm clouds rolled in right over the top of me.
After a very brisk (and wet) walk we arrived at the edge of the course to possibly the worst sight a ravenously hungry photographer, with only 15 cents in his pocket, could witness; a roadside stall laden with a meter of roasted porchetta, an entire leg of prosciutto, and piles of delicious crusty bread. I almost cried. Where is a bankomat when you need one?! I don’t know what was louder at this point – the thunder in the distance or my growling stomach.
Food or no food we were in the perfect position to capture the remaining riders – so we setup and started shooting. Water was now spraying off the riders’ wheels and out into the crowd, who, by now, had sought refuge behind a sea of ponchos and umbrellas.
See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.