We have just finished stage 2 of the Giro and WOW. Today, especially, was epic (but more on that later).
Stage 1 was 58km from Trieste to somewhere 58km away (ok, so I could check the race book, but before you start calling me lazy, why don't you look it up on the race website? THERE. Not so important now, is it?). Trieste is right next to the Slovenian border so the race hotel was actually in Slovenia. This caused a few problems in that no one in the team knew how to say 'thank you' in Slovenian. In the end we just said 'Get a dog up ya!' with a smile and no one seemed to mind.
The course comprised 4 laps of a circuit around Trieste and the Pasta Zara factory, then a short transition to the finish town where we did another 3 laps of the finishing circuit. It was pretty flat and came down to a bunch sprint, won by Ina Yoko Teutenberg of HTC Columbia. Kirsty Broun, our star sprinter, was first Aussie at 11th. The first stage of any tour is always dicey - everyone is nervous, GC hasn't settled, people are twitchy - and the finishing circuit yesterday was diabolical. Crashes, near misses, hairpin bends and, for Vicki Whitelaw, a missing front wheel around 400m from the finish. As I passed Vicki she was picking herself off the road and retrieving her wheel. Characteristically tough, when we ran into her the next day she just said, 'Yeah, it's the first time I've lost a wheel... literally. Guess they ARE quick release!' Man, I've said it before but bike riders are TOUGH.
My race yesterday was a bit frustrating. I had good position going into the finishing circuit, but couldn't hold it and when the hammer went down with 2 laps to go I was caught too far back and copped all the whiplash from the crashes and near misses. I needed to be at the front to support Kirsty going into the final sprint but just couldn't get up. It's these sorts of situations that really show how much of a difference experience makes in the peleton. I guess that is what I am here for, but it is frustrating all the same.
Today's 2nd stage was 130km, the longest stage of the tour. Today was an eventful day for the Aussies. It came down to a bunch sprint and 500m from the finish there was a massive pile-up, involving most of the sprinters and their lead-outs. Kirsty was in an awesome position and had Emma Mackie and Tiff Cromwell looking after her, and they all hit the deck. They are OK - no broken bones, but will be pretty sore and sorry tomorrow. I haven't heard about the rest of the casualties from other teams yet. Then, to make matters worse, our soigneur Beth was involved in a car accident on the way to race finish and ended up in hospital. She is back at the hotel and also OK, although we suspect the car is a write-off. So it was a subdued team this arvo - hopefully we have gotten all our bad luck out of the way in one hit.
Not much else to report - the temperatures have been HOT - 37deg today - which has made hydration a challenge but nothing a bunch of hardened Aussies can't handle. The food has been good so far - although I am told after 10 days the novelty of having pasta 3 meals a day will wear off. Speaking of which, I had better go, because it's dinner time. I started cramping up today towards the end in the heat, which means tonight I have a golden excuse to eat even more salt! Mmmmm.
Tomorrow is the TT. Nico, our mechanic, has decked us out in some awesome TT rigs, I am EXCITED!