Tirreno reportage: 2. At the start in San Vincenzo

The start of a first stage is like a wrapped box: few to see, few to say. The weather is slightly better in San Vincenzo when I walk to the signature podium, it isn't raining at least. In the small square at 9 am Stefano Bertolotti, Paolo Mei and Albertino, the race speakers and Radio 101 dj are making jokes each others in front of nobody. A woman opens a window and Albertino says: - Buon giorno Signora! C'è la Tirreno-Adriatico! - She closes the window and disapears. WTF! Fortunately some more spectators are coming and things become a bit less surreal. No riders yet. On the stage the race director Stefano Allocchio seriously explains what maximum time is. Nobody is expected to come till the last 20 minutes when as usual riders will sign all together in a colored mess of jerseys and bikes. Team Qhubeka arrives earlier! - They are new – spekers say – don't know yet how it works -. On the road instead they know very well because they already got the first good results. 
RSLT riders are late and Andy Schleck signs amongh the last riders, respecting tradition and rules. I'm glad to see he has got a beautiful smile this morning in spite of yesterday rain and the long day ahead. Today stage in fact is the longest in this year Tirreno, more than 200 km.
He places his bike far from the front and wait for the start stretching his neck. Then he stops and turns his face toward the sea - gray, cold, lulling some white boats in the small harbour - thinking maybe of fishing and summer, maybe of nothing, just clearing his mind of all useless thoughts. The start is given, off they are crossing all Tuskany from east to west. Today it's only about to survive: two hills in the first km than a long flat to prepare the unavoidable bunch sprint.
I'm back to the caffé for another cappuccino, checking my pictures and waiting for my train. It isn't cold. I have two hours to wait so I go to the small desert rail station and sit outside reading my Sartre.
To go home in Florence takes me the same time it takes to the peloton to ride to Indicatore and we travel under the same monotonous rain. I see it ouside the window, they feel it on their face and inside the bones. I'm back in time to see the finish: OPQS messing up the sprint, Goss celebrating, Cavendish still leader. For me I keep two images: Qhubeka Ciolek's splendid 3rd and a socked Andy after the line. Not easy but it's two stages done. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes we like! Hang in there Andy. You must continue fighting. H