It’s stage 18, and I woke up this morning feeling happy. After some deep soul-searching, I put this down to 3 reasons. Firstly, delirium. Secondly, we were almost at Milano. Thirdly, we were back in the Dolomites.
Breaking this down further, the Dolomites brings pleasure on an additional three fronts. Firstly, for my Australian readers over 30 (and yes, I am in that bracket), you can’t say Dolomites without thinking of Dollarmites (and that ad). Secondly, for the simple fact that it is a photographer’s (and cyclist’s) paradise. Check out last year’s stage for a small sampling.
The third and final reason I jumped out of bed this morning, and couldn’t wait to get shooting in the Dolomites, was due to a sneaking suspicion, rolling around in the back of my head. The feeling that, despite last year’s stage looking amazing, I had barely scratched the surface of what was on offer in these parts.
On a strictly personal note, I have booked 5 days R&R straight after the Giro in this area (sorry Stuntman), so today's shoot also offered an opportunity to decided what climbs I should revisit.
But I digress. We headed to the Passo Pordoi nice and early to have a walk around, looking for the best locations. To add to the degree of difficulty, the riders were taking on the pass in the opposite direction to last year.
Dear friends, I am but a humble photographer, so I will happily admit this cooked my noodle. What I considered to be the best angle(s) had completely changed - meaning I kept wanting to shoot the wrong way!
Headed off at la passo
After Pordoi we cut across the course and made it to Passo Gardena, with a further plan to also make it to the finish. As usual, three spots on a short stage didn’t leave much room for error. Stuntman Mike would earn his keep today.
Getting off the pass proved to be difficult as the race had stretched out significantly. With 5 categorised climbs, and not a single flat kilometre of road between them, the riders had to conquer 4000m of climbing in just 137km, splintering into small groups in the process. This didn’t stop the guys at the front covering the course in under 4 hours.
We arrived at the finish just in time to see Tejay van Garderen take the victory. It was an emotional win for him and the media scrum was ridiculous. Hoping for a celebration shot like yesterday, I hung back from the finish line but found it difficult to squeeze another lens in edgeways.