We’re on the percorso early, today.
Montevergine is the destination – the first real mountain top finish of the Giro.
At the top it’s 1,260 metres above sea level, it’s 17.1 K long with a total altitude gain of 856 metres, average gradient 5% and maximum gradient 10%.
It’s always good to ‘work the start’ – get some pictures and quotes in the 90 minutes or so between the team buses arriving and the roll out but today we just don’t have time.
Due to the nature of the percorso this year – a headlong breenge down the western seaboard of Italy, with the odd ‘squiggly bit’ into the dirt or hills – there are significant distances between the finish of one stage and the start of the next.
Our game plan has been to hole up half way – drive a bit after the stage, then drive a bit before the stage, next morning.
This has worked well enough, but today there’s an added complication up at Montevergine – essential vehicles are the only ones allowed up there.
Team cars which are following the race and Giro organisation cars.
The T-shirt sales vans aren’t even allowed – that shows how serious it is.
When the race passes through Mercogliano there are 15 K to go; for anyone not on a bike or on foot, there are around two K to go – by funicular.
Dave and I did this a few years back; and whilst getting up the hill was fine, getting off it was horrific – the queue for the funicular was solid back up the access stairs to the main road and there were some ugly scenes.
This year we resolved that we couldn’t wait the 15 minutes that the gruppetto would be down – we’d watch the leaders from our vantage point at 600 to go, then make for the funicular.
It worked well, we had good chat with the locals; got our shots of Bart De Clerq en route to glory; the Lampre chase with the favourites in tow and a few of the stragglers.
No pictures of the gruppetto, though – we had to get on that Funicular before things got messy.
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And now it’s Saturday and we’re driving down the Campania coast – it’s beautiful.
I’ve never been this far south on the Tirreno side of Italy before, last year, Martin and I were way down to Bitonto – but that’s on the Adriatico side.
The road is hugging the cliff tops, the sun is splitting, the sea is like a mill pond and the roadside folks are cool.
Not much more you can ask for.
Best get writing! Ciao, ciao.