Luke Evans is motorbike driver for top cycling photographer Graham Watson at the Giro d’Italia. Aside from piloting motorbikes, Luke is an author, freelance journalist and former editor of Cycle Sport magazine. Graham’s Giro photos can be seen in our gallery section.
May 22, Stage 12, Forlin – Carpi 172 km
Today was flat, and Cavendish was second, beaten by a tyre’s width. Yet again it rained – heavily at the start and then again, with 45km to go, making for a nervous finale, although we only stopped for one crash, where I saw a snapped Giant and a pretty beaten up Lampre rider.
These flat stages give Graham a chance to get shots of riders doing stuff behind the peloton, fetching bottles and rain capes and today we got lucky when the Giro stopped in a town and locals handed out trays of cakes and savouries. When we got going a few minutes later we jostled with the other motorbikes to get a pic of Bettini, offering a full tray of cakes to the pink jersey, while riding along at the back of the peloton.
We also got a good shot of Iglinsky taking a banana from Yates’s Astana car and give it to Contador. Big deal, you say, but riders very rarely eat bananas on the move – Contador, however, is mad for them and the boss must be looked after.
We have christened the grey cloud that is following this year’s Giro ‘Fantozzi’ after an Italian cartoon character who is always suffering bad luck and misfortune. Fantozzi followed us to the start and, sure enough, it hammered down just as the race was starting.
I was a bit stressed by the problems with my bike yesterday and did not mention the racing, and the course which was spectacular. The wet roads resulted in an epic stage, with 30 crashes recorded as the split peloton came down the big hills which threw every type of bend at them – all running with water. If this had been a cyclo-sportive three quarters of the field would have crashed out.
The light coloured roads and new roads, using black tarmac, have to be treated with respect, as do the white lines which you cannot cross if cranked over.
Cavendish has to survive these stages before he gets to explode down the final 200 metres and he gets my max respect for that.