A start in Florence sounded incredible, with images circling in my mind of the riders passing the Duomo.
However, the reality for stage 11 was something else entirely. After sitting in traffic, we were eventually pushed out of town and onto suburban streets. The only view I got of Florence was off in the distance.
The Perfect Storm
The exhausting schedule of creating fresh content for each stage the Giro (and rest days) was starting to catch up with us. For the first week or so, we managed to keep on our schedule - editing the photos and putting the content together once the stage was complete, with still enough time to review the next stage and create a plan before hitting the sack.
By this point of the Giro, especially after a long day chasing the ITT (and a 1.5 hour drive to our accommodation), the image editing and content creation was now overlapping with what should be our planning time (and/or sleep).
On the night before stage 11, we hit the perfect storm - we had run out of time, and had a difficult course to plan for.
Some courses are easy and some are not. This one was not. At 11.59pm the Il Garibaldi, which I have named "the Giro bible", got thrown across the room. “How can I look at this entire stage? Let's just do the first climb and see what we come up with”. Famous last words.
Fast-forward to the next morning and we found ourselves driving along the road of the first climb as slowly as possible, eyes darting from side to side. “Stop here” I said in an agitated tone, most likely due to the 3 espressos already in the tank. The Stuntman silently pulled over.
Pacing up and down, looking for a position to shoot from, I noticed, one by one, a number of other photographers beginning to arrive. As much as I usually dislike shooting in the same spot as the rest of the pack, today there was a certain sense of comfort in knowing that we were, at least, at the right spot. Especially as we were flying blind.
We were slightly better prepared for the second spot, targeting a view of the riders on the final descent to the finish.
What I hadn’t factored in completely was that this approach was going to require a vigorous run through the forest. If I could pull it off, I figured I could capture the lead riders at the summit of the last climb before legging it down in time to catch the gruppetto descending to the finish. It was worth a shot (pun intended).
The race had splintered into pieces on the final climb and, as I sprinted through the forest, I could see the blurred colours of the riders’ jerseys darting between the trees, and hear the familiar sound of spinning freewheels flying down the descent.
Fortunately, the challenging stage had been cruel to the peloton, meaning I managed to catch the last of the riders before they disappeared.