After Etna failed to erupt, we were keen to return to the mountains for stage 9, and give the GC a good shake-up.
The rest day was well and truly on our weary minds - so much so that we decided to get it started a day early with a nice, relaxing stage. After dropping into the start briefly, we headed for the hills.
The Blockhaus was sure to scratch our vertical itch, with gradients over 9% for the last 10km.
In an act of blatant patriotism, potentially-impressive clairvoyance, or cyber vandalism, the Wikipedia page had already been updated with Nairo Quintana as the stage winner - even though the stage had yet to start.
Falling with style
Creeping up the climb, looking for the best spots, we got a rude shock. The riders were less than 30km behind us!
With a 2.5km jog from the carpark back down the hill to our selected spot - it was going to be us vs them.
Our relaxed, pre-rest day vibes from the morning suddenly evaporated, and white line fever set in. Like seasoned pros, we stuffed prosciutto-loaded panini into our mouths, cameras over each shoulder, and proceeded to leg it down the slope.
If anyone managed to snag a shot of us half-running, half-stumbling down the hill - cameras bouncing around, plumes of panino crumbs firing out of our nostrils - please share it on my Facebook page,. We’ll all get a good chuckle.
We arrived at our corner, which was starting to accumulate a good-sized crowd, and, satisfyingly, no other photographers. Unfortunately, I mentally celebrated a little too soon and, before long, we were elbow-to-elbow again, fighting off others trying to ‘drop in’ on our wave, errr, shot.
Impressively, the Wikipedia page was proven accurate - Nairo Quintana appeared with no other riders in sight.