Just as we started to feel settled, rolling towards the finish line in Milano, everything changed. Grazie suddenly became danke, buongiorno became guten morgen and Moretti became Franziskaner. Our snack of choice had also changed from grissini to Schüttelbrot. You’ll find a handy recipe here.
Stage 19 started in Innichen (or San Candido, depending on who you ask), on the border of Austria. As with most of Europe, this neck of the woods has changed hands a few times, and 85% of the population speaks German as a first language. So, unlike yesterday, we were still technically in northern Italy, but feeling decidedly like we weren’t...
This theme extended to our first photo location, a green meadow surrounded by pine trees and jagged mountain peaks. As more and more photographers arrived, roaming around the field, the riders came into view. For a glorious few moments the hills were alive with the sound of camera shutters.
I had carefully selected what I thought was the best spot on the climb but, after the Dolomites, it just wasn’t the same. Instead, we found ourselves driving all the way to the summit, hoping to find something serendipitously.
Alas, the best location ended up being my previously selected spot, which was, by now, 5km back down the hill. This one was on me, so I tied my shoelaces and prepared for the long walk/jog.
Short on time, Stuntman Mike would have to be the finish line specialist today. I handed over my red bid (for priority position at the finish line) along with some gear, and patted him on the back. “Try not to screw it up” I smiled. Actually, it was more like “try and get a good spot up the front so you can get a nice shot of the winner”. Either way, no pressure Stuntman...
After a brisk walk I was back amongst the people. BBQs were cranking away while beers and wine flowed freely. This was the spot for me.
I had a strange request to photograph two guys riding bikes upside down, one with a horse head mask on. How could I say no?
Scratching around for spots, I found the perfect location up the cliff adjacent to the road. After a quick polizia head check, I clambered up.
I have discovered, through a rigorous process of trial & error, that the mesh used to stop rocks falling also makes a great climbing net. Using this method, you can scale near-vertical walls - provided no rocks actually do fall down...
The Stuntman was going to drive down from the finish so I started walking in that direction, stopping to shoot the riders zipping back down the hill to the team buses.