The pro riders weren’t starting until 1:30, so we didn’t have to start as early as initially expected. We actually got a pretty fast start, setting a paceline from the beginning. Not far into our ride, a young bello ciclista in full cycling regalia got on our wheel and asked where we were going. When we told him Trieste, he decided to join us for part of the way and ended up pulling for about 15-20 miles at a pretty fast clip. It was nice to get the pull!
After he dropped off, it was the three of us in a paceline. When I was in front, I was at threshold when holding 20.5 mph; when drafting my heart rate dropped 15-20 beats. Me, I like to draft! :-) Nina, she loves to be in front.
It was a flat, flat course, not very scenic until we got into Trieste, and then it was spectacular along the Adriatic coast.
We encountered a problem however, when Nina’s knee started acting up. I know from experience that sometimes knee pain comes on hard, and there’s no reprieve. We messed with cleats and seat position, to no avail. But she’s very determined, and rode all the way into Trieste.
The coast line rose above the sea along a cliff – our first “climb”, with views of a sparkling city in the distance hugging the edge of the ocean. Beyond Trieste to the south just a few miles is Croatia, what turns into the Dalmation Coast, Croatia is somewhere I am dying to visit (and research for future bike tours). Not far to the east is Slovenia, so we were really on the edge of several countries.
We got caught by the publicity caravan which if truth be told, is laughable. Compared to the Tour de France caravans I’ve experienced, it’s quite boring! But this meant we didn’t have much time until the peleton arrived, so we pushed it into the city. The last 25 km were virtually empty of cars, save a few official vehicles here and there, so it was delightful! As we entered and rode through the city, the roads were lined with thousands of people cheering.
The above photo does little to convey this excitement!
Once in Trieste there was an initial smaller loop through the streets of the city (the peleton would do several laps, we opted just for one). Then another 10km loop that returned back to the same spot right on the water – this gave the fans virtually 5 views of the racers. I don’t remember a Tour de France route that has ended quite like this with so many circuits – I wonder if it’s peculiar to the Giro?
We did that 10km loop with not much time to spare. I have to say that it was one of the most thrilling moments I’ve ever had on a road bike. It was winding, up and down on the outskirts of the city and then right back into the city center, with some real fun parts that would translate into very dangerous sections when cyclists are truly racing them.
We were the only ones on the road, and the thick layers of fans on each side cheered for us as if we were the pros. Maybe it was our snazzy kits that threw them off!
No time to snap photos, we were cutting it close at this point.With 4 km to go, a policeman stepped into the center of the street and said, “Chiusi per biciclettas”. Closed? Gene took off around him at full tilt and I just looked at him like a dumb American and said, “Non capisco!” Now we were really racing. Man, what a blast! There was no finish line to cross because they had to wait for the peleton to do it’s 4 laps, then they would open up that section of the railing.
So we joined the throngs of people and scrambled for a view. We were 200m from the finish, and it was sure to be a sprint finish, but unless you were literally on the fence (like those who had been guarding their spot for hours, perhaps even all day), it was hard to see over the layers of heads in front of you. We did find a truck bed to stand on with several dozen others and managed a few photos.
From there, this was our view (the first lap through):
Gino managed to get a good location for the actual sprint finish and took this next photo of the tail end of the peleton. Notice something funny? Two Liquigas riders riding the opposite direction (in lime green)? They’re like “La-dee-da, we’re done and you’re not!” The Giro is weird sometimes…
Petacchi won this stage, just ahead of Cavendish, who got to keep the pink jersey.
Afterwards, we walked around the piazza of Trieste and enjoyed the people watching. A few shots of this amazing piazza:
We then had to jump into Daniele’s van for the 45 min drive to our hotel in Grado, the start of the next day’s stage. The others wanted a shower before eating, but I HAD to eat before showering, so Jimmy, our massage therapist and vidographer (Gene’s brother) and I went for dinner first. That means I got to have the first massage!
And boy did I need it. I felt great today after the ride, surprisingly good for 100 miles, but not until someone starts pressing and poking you do you realize how much you hurt.
Not much sleep that night…the next day would be our longest stage and the alarm would go off at 6:15, only 5 1/2 hours later.
Note: I posted this the next night after Stage 3, around midnight (and added photos a week later) – one thing we’ve learned is that things ALWAYS take much, much longer than you expect, and you rarely can find internet when you’re on the road! So that’s why my stage posts are our of order…