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 27, Rest Day

Rest day my arse! How relaxing does five hours in the saddle, nearly 300km over two mountain passes sound? That was the length of the transfer from the Corones TT to tomorrow’s Stage 17 in Sondrio.

It was actually a pretty nice ride as I followed the squadra Watson Ford Focus TDCi estate (good car, takes GW’s bike and all our bags) and used it to hide behind as overdressed and sweaty German motorcyclists narrowly avoided splatting themselves on the windscreen as they came off the two major passes, Mendola and Tonale, pronounced ‘Tonarlay’ but henceforth known as ‘Toe Nail Pass’ to the squadra.

Things I noticed on the rest day included: three dead snakes; 28 then 32 on the digitemp signs (Fantozzi had a rest day too – it was hot); a sign with ‘Mondo Bimbo’ on it; a van with ‘Stufe in Ceramica’ on the side; two white BMW 3 series estates (white is the hip car colour this year); two FDJ riders dressed identically in racing kit and white caps, both on an easy rest day ride; Sean Yates looking a bit pooped sitting outside a cafe, legs splayed in cycling kit.

We just had time to go to the Astana hotel where Graham had to get some shots of Park Tool equipment in use. I got chatting to one of the Astana mechanics, Brit Alan Butler. Nice bloke. At last, Giro tech jocks, I have some info for you.

I had heard that Astana were using 34 tooth inner rings for the mountain stages and Corones TT. The blocks were 11-28 but Alan revealed that pink jersey Contador used an incredibly low gear of 34 x 30 for the Corones TT. When the Spaniard tried the climb before the race he found he was bouncing around too much climbing in the 28. He weighs nothing, so they fitted the 30 to allow him to sit and pedal, keeping the bike as much in contact with the ground as possible.

Contador’s bike has special pink SRAM brake hoods and there was a big bag full of them about to be fitted to the other bikes. I asked Alan how many punctures they had had. He held up a thumb. One! No, two. A tyre was punctured after a crash. Not bad after two weeks eh? They use tubs and a front tyre can last the whole race. The rears will usually be changed. They had hardly used their deep section carbon Bontragers, Alan added – the race had been so hilly they use the lighter carbons, and the wet weather can let water into the deep sections.

I had noticed one team, FDJ I think, were using tub tape on their Dura-Ace carbon wheels. Alan made a face. Veloflex have a new tub tape he said, but he would not use it. Gluing tubs to carbon rims is a whole new skill. Alan said he used a file to roughen the surface but the tyres must be expertly seated as the rims can reach 280 – 300 deg when braking on descents. They had put temp sensing tape on some wheels and at those temperatures the glue starts to melt.

The mechanics were putting chains onto the Treks – this was the second time during the Giro. Was that necessary, I asked. Psychological, said Alan.

Just then Yates arrived, looking like a bloody scarecrow in Astana top and red In-Gear shorts. You look like you have done a good four hours says I. Oh no. I get the Yates glare and he barks – “10 hours”. He has just ridden his bike what we did in a car and a motorbike. Two passes, around 250km in 28 degrees plus. He had blown to pieces when we saw him earlier but, hey, not a bad ride by the legend of Forest Row.

I had the ’10’ result texted to him from Andy Jones. Sean is impressed by Hutch – reckons he must have put down 470 watts to win Sunday’s race.

Oh – only two Astanas use Bonti carbon bars: Contador and Leipheimer.

Luke

PREVIOUS GIRO BLOGS

May 26: Stage 16, San Vigilio-Plan de Corones TT

May 25: Stage 15, Arabba-Passo Fedaia

May 24: Stage 14, Verona-Alpe di Pampeago

May 23: Stage 13, Modena-Cittadella

May 22: Stage 12, Forlin-Carpi

May 21: Stage 11, Urbino-Cesena

May 20: Stage 10, Pesaro-Urbino