Sunday, May 31, 2009

Roman Holiday: Giro d' Italia Stage Four

Today's adventure takes us with the Giro from Padova to a mountain top finish! Our gracious host Willem, has arranged for Jeff and Mick to ride in team cars with the race. I will be riding in the Santini Car in the parade in front of the race. It is interesting to note, that on this day, Jeff and I will have two very different experiences of the same road and same race. I am quite looking forward to enjoying the back seat of the car all to myself and seeing the sights as we go. 

The race begins in Padova. It is market day in the square, so one side of the square looks like this:

And the other side of the square looks like this (the parade cars are all queued up to preceed the race):

It is incredible that every day the race exposition went up, functioned as a race village, and then came down to travel to the next day's start location. The same for the the finish area, barriers, and everything that has to do with the race. It is quite a study in logistics. Mick and Thomas chatting in the race village:

Padova behind the race start:

The racers start the neutral portion of the stage in town and have a rolling start as they head out of town. Looking out of the starting corral:

I enjoyed how compliant the spectators were with the sponsor's hats. I couldn't bring myself to wear mine!

Paolo Bettini kept turning up everywhere! He is a beloved, famous Italian cyclist. Mick with Paolo Bettini: (Click on the link to learn more about Bettini!)

I loved these little mechanical bicycles. Although the vendor would mysteriously pack up his wares and slip out of sight every so often.

I couldn't get enough of the variety of vibrant fruits and vegetables at the produce stands:

Jeff was so excited to ride along with a team car! There were two teams willing to take Santini guests in their vehicles. Jeff chose a team that he thought was going to make a move for the stage win that day. Mick got the other car. As we dropped Mick off with the Lampre team, we learned he was going to be riding in the number one car! That's the car that goes ahead if one of their riders is in the break-away! Jeff had gotten a seat in his team's van. They were going to be taking a short cut to the top of the mountain to hand out water bottles. Upon learning this, Willem decided we would not tell Jeff about this until later! Bad luck! Willem securing Jeff's spot in the Diquigiovanni van where he would spend the rest of the day bombing through the mountains with two men who didn't speak english:

Danielle's artsy photograph:

The view looking out the rear window of the Santini Car:

Leaving Padova:

The view out the front window of the Santini Car:

Sights along the race route:

(Do you watch the Tour de France on tv? This guy is famous!!! I'm not sure, but it looks as though he's actually secured a sponsor. Has he sold himself "to" the devil if he has actually sold himself "as" the devil?) My favorite photograph of the 600 I took on the trip:

More sights along the route:

Ansel Who?

We make it to the finish line and watch as the race leaders approach the finish:

Legging it out to the finish:

Lance! Lance! Over here! After finishing the riders have to turn around and go back out the finishing stretch:

The peleton and Pink Jersey approach the finish:

My favorite car in the parade:

An amazing and once in a lifetime experience! Our deepest and sincerest thanks to Santini, Willem, Mick, And Thomas for guiding us through these past couple days of the Giro d' Italia. Tomorrow morning we take a train to Rome! Fingers crossed!!! 

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