Luke Evans is the motorcycle pilot for cycling photographer Graham Watson

The Zoncolan is said to be one of the hardest, steepest climbs in cycling. As one of the ‘pool’ of motorcycle-mounted photographers we were in the four bikes elected to work among the TV bikes, motorbike-mounted mechanics with bikes slung over their shoulders, and race officials on their pink Yamahas.

No cars on the Zoncolan; its too narrow and the gradient would fry their clutches.

Still, it was chaos, but we’re in Italy and while the Brits would probably start thumping each other, here it feels like an accepted part of the creative process.

At one point we had to wait behind two high-up Giro officials, both on the back of motos, as they had a full-on shouting match behind the leading cyclists.

The moto-mounted mechanics were filling the road behind the Contador group and one or two were having serious handling issues as they lurched this way and that. The heavy TV bikes were also giving trouble and we nearly hit one as it bucked sideways.

After fabulous views of the jagged peaks of the Dolomites earlier, still with snow in places, the clouds had settled over the Zoncolan and not long after stage winner Igor Anton crossed the line, the hail came down accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Drying off in the press room just off the summit, I am happy to have made it up the Zoncolan, though I can’t say it’s a climb I ever fancy pedalling up.

Related links

Giro d’Italia 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index


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  • nigelf

    I ride for the BC NEG riders adn gotta say, on these roads, the choice fo bikes for the mountains is seriously wrong. For the first time I seen Africa Twins and some 650XLs and the likes but the big FJ or RT bike that blew a gasket was just ridiculous.
    This stage is a one off but I reckon that the choice of bikes overall needs loking at by the officials before it causes an incident. Max limit 800cc/230KG should be imposed on Grand Tours where it will include such a varied type of roads. This could also apply to the Classics.
    Time those old BMs where laid to rest adn their uprated shocks went into the newer lighter bikes available where needed.
    Obvious exception is the tv cam….we all know why they need heavy weight bikes, balance, load etc, but even in this stage they need to consider options especially when you have 2 Heli cams and next to no sat link to use them.

    Oh – and can I have a job…is there a club/organisation etc?