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 25, Stage 15, Arabba-Passo Fedaia
Despite Fantozzi’s best efforts – it was cloudy again and rained for the last hour or so – the mighty Dolomites served up some stunning views today and a good racing stage.
Three times today we climbed to over 2,000 metres, where snow lay in big patches and I even saw skiers on one summit. The air was thin and I actually felt a bit sick when we set off up the Passo Pordoi at about 1,300 metres at the start of the stage.
The nerves don’t help, this was to be one of the toughest stages of the race with five descents and lots of passing dropped groups. Italian mountain roads are not like French ones, which are mostly engineered with same radius hairpin bends and good grippy surfaces. Around here you can never be quite sure, literally, what is around the next corner.
It gives the climbs more character and it tests your motorbike, or bicycle, to its limits. We followed the Australian road champion Matthew Lloyd and his Lotto team mate Francis De Greef off the Passo Giau, tagging on a couple of bike lengths behind as he chased back on to the front group inside 50km to go.
Astana’s Iglinsky was about 500 metres behind and could just be seen in my mirrors or if I craned my neck upwards on the lower part of a hairpin bend. That was fun, holding off the Kazakh champ in his turquoise jersey while riding on the wheel of the Aussie title holder.
Dolomites: beautiful scenery, treacherous roads. Photo by Graham Watson
It was good practice too and on the final long descent we held our place among the other motos, in the wet behind the peloton to the bottom of the final climb. The BMW weighs 250kg, so with two on board plus cameras and gear we must be packing 450kg plus, about half the weight of a hatchback, with a contact patch the size of a brick. If the bike is parked on the slightest incline I can barely push it more than a foot or two forward.
It’s hard physical work and today I am knackered. Tomorrow is the crazy TT stage on the dirt road to Corones. An easy day and I’ll try and get some bike tech stuff to you (about ruddy time, I hear you say).