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- San Vincenzo TTT
- At the start in San Vincenzo
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La corsa dei due mari: Two Seas Race... it makes you think about a lot of water but it isn't suppose to come from above! This year again it starts with a TTT in San Vincenzo and it's raining since two days. Teams are forced to train indoor, the beautiful Costa degli Etruschi looks miserable and the crowd will be unlikely big. I'm on a dirty, sad Italian train slowly going from Florence to Grosseto, in the south of Tuskany. The sky is gray, heavy clouds and a warm wind called Scirocco. When we pass the big rail station of Pisa the train gets suddenly empty and it starts raining. The more we go to the coast the more it rains. At each stop I see bigger and more frequent drops merciless falling in larger puddles. Sea villages in winter are desert. Nobody, all closed, silence and angry gray waves against squalid rocks.
In San Vincenzo there is a rain storm and it goes on all day. Team buses are at the edge of the main street – many restaurants and caffes but all closed – riders and staff sheltered inside. At RSLT's Danny (bus driver), Roger (mechanic) and Josue (masseur) are preparing for the warming-up under the bus' veranda – basicly a extensible tent joined to the bus' side – and looking around perplexed. Those are people who do their job in any condition and do it well. I say Hi but it makes no sense to stay there yet moreover because the wild wind destroyed already my umbrella. There is an open restaurant just in front: I get in and ask a pizza. - Are you too with the race? - the waiter asks me. We are all: at the tables you see only people with a pink pass at the neck! I don't have it though: the press room is at the finish in Donoratico. No matter: in such a small village on such a rainy day I don't need a press acreditation.
Few later I'm back to the bus. It's still raining – even more if possible – and riders are warming-up. I stand in the rain watching and taking a few pictures but as usual I feel embrrassed: some riders are relaxed and talkactive while warming up for a TT but Andy Schleck looks always very tense or at least very very – VERY – focused. Horner for example is chattering with some specators, jauntily glimpsing around, giving away hat and bottle, Cancellara is concentrated – eucalyptus tampon in his nose to breath better – but still willing to smile for a pictures or reply to a wave. Andy looks just in front of himself and you could think he sees nothing. He's less clothed than the others and is sweating more. Often warming up he showes some very insense faces and I get the impression to violate something intimate. It's just me: riders are used to act in public and so focused they exclude anything so can't be disturbed if you are there watching. However there is a limit and I go close to beat by my useless umbrella a villain old man who keeps screaming: - Andy! Andy! Oh? Look here! Andy! - But people aren't a problem today: there is only a very small crowd and nobody stop too long. - You shouldn't disturb – I said. I think Andy recognized my voice because he looks at me just one second with empty eyes.
It's time to get ready: Josue places the radio on Horner who says: - Remember me to turn it on eh! - Andy is still wearing the normal kit so goes to the bus to get into the skin suit: something you definitely can't do in public. But the door is open and the wind keeps moving the curtain so Sabine (the masseuse) come to fix it with a knot. I'm always amazed by her beautyl: years seem to not pass for her. Lucky woman! And we go to the start in the pourring rain.
I have no pass yet – it's at the finish: brilliant! - so can't get into the barriers but there is no problem: you must be payed or mad or really passionate to stand in the storm and watch. I'm not payed. RSLT riders wait under a white pathetic gazebo wearing their black rain jacket. Faces aren't happy, I'd say resigned. Poor Fabian Cancellara knows it will be hard to achieve a good result and it must be frustrating for him who is so strong against the clock. Nevertheless to be a team involves to consider each one's possibilities and aims: today Horner and Andy Schleck will not pull and the aim is to not drop anybody. Andy is the last one on the ramp and looks nervous. Not his cup of tea. Stefano (the speaker) introduces the team and there we go: on the wet road, in the heavy rain they are pedaling the 16 kms to Donoratico, almost flat, almost straight. Only a hill and a descent. I have all my fingers crossed, feet fingers included.
The race is halfway but I don't wait for the other teams: I have to go to the finish and get my accreditation. I want to say Danny Ciao before so I walk back to the bus where Sabine and Josue are about to leave by car. We watch on tv the RSLT TT and then Danny give me a lift to the finish. He's going to the hotel but the road is still closed so I thank him and head on foot to Donoratico, 1.30 kms more or less. Still in the rain. I know that road: it's the final stretch of GP Costa degli Etruschi, the first race of the Italian caledar, not disputated this year dued to money issues. I pass the police, few people watching, the speaker's voice weak and far, my feet on the mud. A team passes me, then a dropped rider, then motos. It's so strange this silence between a team and the other. Astana, that's the last one. When I arrive OPQS has been already celebated. I go straight to the press room, get my accreditation and walk away. I cross Mark Cavendish on the entrance: he's going to the race leader press conference. But I go to the rail station instead, back to San Vincenzo and to take a good warm cappuccino in a rare open caffé. My place for the night is a confortable B&B by the beach, so close to the sea you can hear it at night. All my clothes and my backpack are humid and will stay humid till tomorrow because there is no way to dry them.
The TTT didn't go well for RSLT, DS Demol will say he expected more. It didn't go so bad for Andy, dropped only on the descent, near the finish. Tomorrow it's going to be a long day.
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