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 26, Satge 16, San Vigilio – Plan de Corones TT
I took Graham to the start today. In a cable car. Then we walked to the race, through snow. The fans were dressed as if for a cyclo-cross, in boots, thermal jackets and hats.
This is the Fantozzi Giro, the strange weather race, so you won’t be surprised to hear that the location for the finish of the 16th stage TT was the Plan de Corones ski station at 2,273m, at the end of a track with the surface of a Sustrans route and as steep as any hill climb course in the UK.
Over 20 percent in places, the Corones lived up to its reputation as a ski slope – skiers zig-zagged down the snow on one side as cable cars ran up the other. I was thinking this stage, 129km up a mountain side, would be a gimmick, and a cruel one at that. They tried to use it in 2006 but a blizzard cancelled the stage.
Steve Farrand says that it was actually OK to ride when the stage was due up it but the myth grew – Corones was an untamed beast.
Today changed all that – this was a super stage. The track was gritty and a bit soft in places, but mostly roughly metalled and rideable. The setting was ringed with hundreds of Dolomite peaks, all dusted with snow and, today, free from cloud cover and just awesome.
Everyone rode their standard bikes, mostly with wheels for the mountains, not deep carbons, but lighter rimmed Campag, Shimanos and Mavics. The contrast in styles between Contador and Ricco is quite marked. The Cobra fights his machine and I remember seeing him slow dramatically on the bottom of the climb of the previous TT as he crunched through the gears.
Contador pedals like a clock with a broken spring, whirring his little brown legs around to no apparent effect – until you see the result sheet.
No tech today, sorry, stuck up the mountain.
PREVIOUS GIRO BLOGS
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