|At the start|
This reportage is shared in:
1. GP Camaiore
2. Just a talk
3. Strade Bianche
4. Pics spam :)
The hall is silent and desert. I'm siting on a white sofa waiting for Andy and feel quite sleepy: it has been a long, tiring, exciting day and it isn't over yet. Out the window it's all dark already, the lamps' lights are trembling, reflected on the pool. I have to drive home, one hour an half. No, I have nothing to do now, just to sit here and wait. It isn't an interview so I didn't think about questions. I'm just recolletting the day, distractly. It's the first time I meet Andy since more then one year.
I have not slept, that's normal. Just a little in the early morning but I had to leave very early to be in Camaiore at 9 am. It was an icy sunny dawn and I had to defrost the window of my car. It's a work day so there was a lot of traffic on the highway but I like to drive and I'm a good driver. I arrived in Camaiore at the same time as RSLT bus and cars and followed them because Danny – the best bus driver in the world - always knows where to go. Of course there were also those colored race signals and some policemen (and women) who know very few instead. Ah! The cheerful mess of a race start! I asked for the press center but they didn't know, I asked for a place to park and their answer was: "Mhm... that's hard!" so I left it in the first free unavailable place and walked toward the teams buses parking, into the stadium. Before I stopped to get my accreditation and once again I had to admit how messy my compatriots are.
Finally I crossed the green wet grass and at 10 am I was in front of RSLT bus. What a splendid weather! It was cold yes, there was the snow on the Apuane mountains, but the sky was a perfect blue and the sun already warm.
|A remind on Andy's bike|
I went to shake hands with Luca Guercilena who was talking to the one other jounalist, come to ask about the topyc of the day. Danny got off the bus:
"Hi. How are you?"
"I'm fine and you? It's a long time!"
Calm, efficient, nice. Danny is perfect in his role that isn't just driving the bus: he's the living interface btween inside and outside the bus. "We hope that Andy finishes today" He read on my mind. But obviously that's the goal: a basic one, so important for him.
I waited in the sun unable to relax. One year! You can imagine. And what a year for him...! the worst year of his career, of his life maybe. I was just too happy to meet again and couldn't avoid to smile.
RSLT's riders were the last ones to go signing, as usual, and Andy was the last one to get off the bus, as usual. He saw me and smiled me back coming to give me a kiss on the cheek: "Ciao". But I knew he's in the 'zone', you can't talk with a rider at the start, not with Andy at least. He's in a hurry and people could think he's cold or unfriendly, but the fact is he's just focused on his job.
He put the pc on his bike, then rode on the grass to the signing podium. I ran after him and took some good pictures. I was happy to see that people still love him very much: when the speaker – my friend Stefano Bertolotti – said his name many came asking for a picture together and an old woman even send him a kiss by the hand: "Ah! Champion! You are a champion!" LOL ... but yes, he is :) Cycling isn't popular in Italy so many ignored his bad moment but everybody remember him in white at the Giro 2007.
It wasn't a good idea to put the signing podium in the middle of the grass: Andy had to go back to the bus and Danny to clean all riders' wheels..The journalist – I think he was Cyclingnews Stephen Farrand - took the opportunity to ask Andy some questions. And finally he went to the start. Reading here you can get the impression he was all alone because I didn't mention any other rider :) You must forgive me: I had eyes only for him. He looked well: relaxed, smiling and in a good shape. The mood in the team was definitely better than last year, no tense at all. While waiting outside the bus they had held their race meeting and I had heard they laugh at Luca's jokes. In his basic English mixed to Italian and German he had explained the tactics of the day. "Dai Andy! Dai!" he had said at the end. That's like: "Allez Andy! Allez!". At the start he was with Laurent Didier, reday to go, the sun on his face, warmers and jaket against the cold but he was going to take them off climbing six times the Monte Pitoro. At the finish he had even open his jersey showing the underwear: something rare if you know him!
And they were off: two laps of a circuit by the sea, then at 12.30 the first passage in Camaiore. I went to say Ciao to Stefano and then ate a sandwich in the sun. At noon the speacker begane to update about the race and a small crowd gathered at the barriers. There was a break - Taylor Phinney (BMC), Stefano Agostini (Cannondale), Maxim Belkov (Katusha) Alessandro Proni (Vini Fantini Selle Italia) and Pedro Paulinho (Ceramica Flaminia). Passage after passage I anxiously scrutinized the peloton looking for the one rider in the race I cared about and yes: he was still in. I must admit I was worried and when the speaker said "Mechanic problem for Andy Schleck" I got nuts. Anyway it was nothing and even if a little dropped he finished the race in a small group. Attending this race has been like at my son's races, when you pray all the time he doesn't crash and are all proud he finishes - no matter how – and give almost a shit for the winner. By the way, the winner was Peter Sagan, 2nd Diego Ulissi and 3rd Rinaldo Nocentini. But who cares?
|After the finish|
I wasn't on the line but after it, by the buses side, so waiting for the finish I couldn't see anything but the teams guys with towels and beverages ready to escort their rider. There was also Josue Aran Garcia – Andy's masseur – and I called him from the barrier:"He finishes! You trained well in Mallorca! You kicked his ass eh!"
"Yes!" Josue replied all happy "That's Kim. He just need some pressure." But words didn't matter, we were simply extremely excited. The speaker told the victory, riders arrived, Josue waited a little then went toward the bus and after a while I did the same: "E' arrivato?" [did he arrived?] he asked me.
"Ancora no" [not yet]. And here he was, Andy, his jersey open, tired but not exhausted, only 5'30'' later. He stopped a bit to rest siting on his bike, then got on the bus. His mates were almost ready to ride to Lido di Camaiore, where the hotel is so he had to hurry up. The journalist asked him again for an interview and he shortly answered on the bus door. Then he put on his beret and rode away with the others. "Ciao!" Luca told me from the bus. He was happy too.
"Ciao! But I come to visit you later"
"Ah! Good! See you then!"
So now I'm siting here waiting for Andy, an ice cream for dinner at 5 pm and my heart beating too fast....