3.16.2013

Tirreno reportage 6: San Benedetto del Tronto ITT


The day after: a beautiful sun and all the time to enjoy it given that the itt is going to start in the afternoon. But I barely slept and at 5 am perfectly awake. Last evening at least I managed to have an aperitif with Dario David Cioni, previous Sky rider and now in the team staff: he lives close to me and also runs http://www.poggioulivi.com/catalogo.aspx?lingua=2 we are often in the same place – at races – but we had never met. It had been a busy day for him and I'm fattered he found a little time for me. The aperitif have been my dinner so now I'm hungry. A good breakfast talking about politics with my B&B landlady and I'm off to the sea front where the itt will start.
 
I'm so sleepy that I can't keep open my eyes but I can't even sleep. I lazily stroll amongh half assembled barriers, desert podiums, palms and the abandoned beach looking absent-mindedly to riders on tt bikes who now and then pass testing the route. The noise of a tt bike is different than a normal one's... it's like a whisper while the other is like a wing beat. TT bikes are heavier so louder: you hear the effort to make them move but for the inertia law they keep going faster if you keep pulling regularly. That's why TT specialists aren't skinny guys: some weight is required.
 
Eventually I reach the buses area, next to the harbour. RSLT's bus is parked near a very old and beautiful boat. I have already met Danny in the town and he's now preparing for the last day of this long, hard race with team mechanics. I extort them a coffee and thanks José Eduardo Santos who makes it for me because I definitely needed it. No Andy so I'm a little disoriented: I must find a focus if not it isn't going to work. There are many riders I know or I like and I never see because they race for other teams, today it's the right day to go and say Hi. Lets have a look to the start order: Maciej Bodnar starts early today and Cannondale's bus isn't far.
It's a strange feeling to stay at a 'different bus'. By RSLT I know everybody, more or less, and it's easy to understand what's going on. By Cannondale I know a few people because of my son – he's a Liquigas Camp's veteran – and interviewed many riders, included the one who's warming up now, Alan Marangoni. The most here are Italians, that should help but no, I feel a stranger. Anyway you must get out your confort zone to achieve something new. - C'è Maciej? - I ask. [Is there Maciej?], - Yes, he comes now – Meanwhile I start talking with a mechanic and end to find out I know him in a certain way: he's the famous Mugnaini from Montemignaio and some relatives of him race in my son's team.
 
- Maciej! Maciej! - He's got off the bus – Come here! - He looks very surprised. - I'm Ilaria, interviewed you, do you remember? -, - Ah, yes...! - He still looks astonished. I must go more often to others' buses. He's good in TT so today he could looks for a results, by the other hand he's probably exhausted after yesterday stage. - How are you? -, - Fine -, - Are you going to try? -, - Sure – Looking to results, he's going to set the 27th best time.
 
I shoot some pictures of him while he's warming-up and walk away because it's time to buy my daily sandwich and eat it in the sun before the first rider takes the start. I want to read the Gazzetta too so the press area at the start is the right place. I'm glad to see there isn't a single line about Andy Schleck. I didn't imagine they were going to put off such a rubbish title two days after but I knew since before that a type who works there – I still don't see why – could find the worst words in lack of better infos. Giving shit seems to be this gentleman's side job while the main one is licking. Nothing to do with journalism but well payed.
Today I sigh with relief, end my piadina (more or less a sandwich) and close the newspaper. No Andy so I see things that I usually miss, for examples that photographer in Sky suit by the other side of the barriers... I think I met him all the week long and even before, in Strade Bianche... first time I stop wondering who is he. Cool man! I'm going to find out he's Scott Mitchell.
 
At the RSLT's bus there is a small crowd now: Fabian Cancellara arrived. He won here last year and many bet on him to repeat. I am too sleepy to go around, place myself in a good spot and wait. Somebody find TT boring and they really are if you can't watch riders from close. In my camera I catch their faces, their expressions and gestures, the last glimpse to something left or the empty look stright in front, the hard pulling of muscles passing fast or the honest pedaling far from the big game. A ITT is like the Forche Caudine: one by one everybody must pass through, good and bad, willing and unwilling, you can't hide yourself in a ITT, you must face your actual shape or disposition. It's an exercise of humility for the most of those guys. For a few of them instead it's an exercise of power. The difference is huge. Look Cancellara, look Tony Martin. Today in this ITT Tirreno's final victory is going to be decided so for the last one starting that's an exercise of desire: how much do you want this race? Who hard can you push your limit to grab or hold it? Froome must grab, Nibali must hold. Nibali imposed yesterday his fearless desire. And now we run all to the finish because the last one is gone. I want a picture of the winner finishing in spite my camera isn't good for it and my accreditation doesn't allow me to stay on the line. 
 
Don't ask me how but when somebody open the gate of the authorities tribune... I get in too. I can see everything perfectly from here! The line is there, the awarding podium just in front of me. - Can I stay here? - I ask showing my accreditation. - Given that you are, you stay – . Thank you people who rule cycling race. I stay and shoot. Nibali finishes, it starts to rain, all the winner of this awfully Tirreno-Adriatico get awarded: Tony Martin first, the stage winner, then Vincenzo Nibali who rises for the second time the trident and looks about to cry, Chris Froome who's second and obviously unhappy and Alberto Contador, 3rd and winner of the Points Jersey. Best Youth Michal Kwiatkowski, Best Climber and Most Aggresive Rider Damiano Cunego, Best Team Movistar. It's raining hard again. Blue paper coriandoli and spumante. It's over for everybody this time not just for me. 
It has been terrible and great. 
I WILL POST THE ITT PICTURES LATER :)

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