3.09.2015

Sound of Wheels: Strade Bianche Reportage

Sunny silence, secluded dirty road like a scratch in the green. Pian del Lago, the first gravel sector in Strade Bianche this morning is mine and I sit on the edge of the field. 
The young tender blades trembling in the wind run from the dusty white of the track till the darker green of the forest, a farm house of stone stays still and mute, all windows shut. Now a first car passes with the number of the race, rising dust and expectation. 
An amateur on his bike stops and stares toward the hills of San Gimignano, where the peloton is about to starts. More cars, wheels spinning on the top, more motorbikes with photographers in green jacket looking for the right spot to shoot. Police motorbikes blaring like hell, more dust, 'Inizo Gara' car telling loud about a break-away - Pirazzi (Bardiani), Berlato and Colli (beiden Nippo), Fonzi (Southeast), Ovetsjkin (RusVelo), Lozano (Novo Nordisk), Arredondo (Trek) an Kosjevoj (Lampre) - disapearing behind the bushy bend.
A perfect silence. One motorbike and a small group of riders in the huge cloud of dust. The sound of wheels, as distinct as I have never heard it, abstractly designed on the perfect blue of the sky. I'm all in the present and this present has no time. Cycling as it used to be, beautiful and cruel. I catch some glances. They are gone.
More silence, suspended. More team cars speeding up on the gravel and more dust in the throat. The peloton, pulled by the whole Movistar making the race for Visconti and Valverde. Trek on the wheels, with Arredondo in the break and Cancellara allowed to wait. 
More riders, more motorbikes with photographers shooting close shots, looking for the photograph of the day, lens already covered of dust, a scarf on their faces. And all rushes away, all runs to the finish even if that's just the begining. I remain and the silence reseals.
It's a different scene in Siena. Crowded, civilized. Santa Caterina's climb is still open and my son rode it three times up and down. It's steep. And here the race is decided, often. While my son sprints to the finish in a sunny cold piazza del Campo, I take my place on the steepest point of the climb. Punctures and crashes disrupted the race already, Stannard retired, Cancellara is fighting his way back to the front. Team Movistar is still leading the chase and the break-away will be over quite soon. I wait in the shadow, but it was colder last year: today it's a taste of spring.
Piazza del Campo
Van Avermaet attacked. Vanmarcke, Valverde and Stybar follow. As they get in Siena they know the winner will be one of them. It's time to give it all and even more on this climb made for to cut your legs. C'mon! Van Avermaet and Stybar have got a gap. They apear down on the road: Van Averamet first, Stybar on his wheel. They look slow, still they are aproaching fast. Here they are, passing in front of me in the roaring crowd. Slightly dropped, Valverde. Then Sep Vanmarcke, head down. Then riders scattered and shattered: I recognise Fabio Felline, Fabian Cancellara comes later, a good Salvatore Puccio, Pozzato, Vincenzo Nibali in a large group... 
Van Avermaet and Stybar on Santa Caterina
Stybar has won, sprinting on Van Avermaet at the last dangerous turn, rising his arm in the sun in front of the Torre del Mangia. But I am at the buses. "Wishes didn't work" I say Sky DS Dario Cioni who finally got off talking to me. It's a long time. He looks good.
"You look tired" Team Sky photographer Scott Mitchell just arrived from the finish. I observe him working. "Sometimes this work is so easy" he says, look lost nowhere "Sometimes is so difficult. I'm rushing here and there all the time..." Next race for him is the Ronde, then the TOC: "California is great", "...but so far!" We arrange to meet again in the last week of the Giro.
Valverde
Danny In T Ven, TFR bus driver, is busy but he finds a moment to say hi. After Andy Schleck's retirement I feel there is something we can't tell. And I say nothing. 
It's time to drive to Mensanello, some good photo in my camera and a confusing warm in the heart. Tomorrow we ride from Colle Val d'Elsa to San Gimignano.


Vanmarcke
Puccio
De Rosa
Oss
Cancellara
Scott Mitchell
Dario Cioni
Photographer at work
MORE TO COME


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