It was hard to believe that stage 6 was starting in less than an hour, I couldn't see one splash of pink anywhere!
There were cars all over the place and very little in the way of roadblocks. Welcome to Calabria, Caravaners.
After a very brief appearance at the sign-on we did our best to get on the race route, but instead found ourselves caught up in a traffic jam of clapped-out hatchbacks.
All Scilla, no filler
This place was insane! Even when we did hit the course, cars kept creeping in from side streets with no Polizia to stop them. I kept thinking we were about to T-bone some poor little Fiat Panda, but if Mike slowed down at all, the official car behind would give us a toot of the horn to speed up.
After many “mamma mia!’’ moments we finally cleared the town and reached our first location. A howling tailwind was giving the riders the advantage today and meant they would be on us in no time. With just a few moments to set-up, we managed to snap a series of images with the seaside castle of Scilla in the background.
Any advantage the wind was giving the riders was quickly neutralised by the Autostrade. It helped us blast past while they took the slower SS18.
Ahead, and with time to kill, I decided to do a little bit of civic service. Wielding a hefty palm tree branch, I went to work weed-whacking until I'd cleared a suitable space to get a clear view of the switchbacks below. It was time well spent - even the locals looked impressed!
A view to a hill
The finish today was uphill, but it was the series of 5 switchbacks beforehand that had everybody talking. How could we shoot both? The answer came in the form of a text message for Iri at Brakethrough Media. We decided to do something that had never been attempted on the Caravan before - a good ol’ fashioned car switcharoo.
So this is how it went down. We pulled up at the top of the descent. Stuntman Mike was on, his job to capture the switchbacks while I rode with Iri's partner Jim to the finish. Then we would rendezvous at 1700 hours at the podium. So I left Mike with some equipment, some words of advice, a fisheye lens and a pat on the back while I rode off into the sunset. We’ll make a renaissance man of you yet, sir!
Generally, I’m not one to get that excited about the finish line of a cycling stage. However, I'll make an exception any day for an uphill finish. The expressions, the effort - it all comes out.
To top it all off a well-timed flare was set off in the the crowd, cloaking the road in smoke. It couldn’t have been planned any better.