Giro d'Italia: On the Scene at Passo dello Stelvio for Stage 20


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Well, I had to run a police barricade to do it, but I made it to Passo Stelvio!

Alla flippa...

I got an early start Saturday morning, because the only way to drive to the Stelvio was on the race route, and I knew I had to get to Caldes, the start town, well ahead of the stage start, in order to get through. Unfortunately, the time cushion I'd given myself melted away in the worst autostrada traffic jam I've ever seen. After crawling along for miles, we came to a dead stop for at least 20 minutes. People were getting out of their cars and walking around. On the autostrada! I was just about in tears. Finally, I managed to exit the autostrada and get on the road to Caldes, but I knew I was in danger of missing the window for getting through. Sure enough, just before Caldes, there was a police roadblock. It was 9:45, and the stage didn't start until 10:25, but the police at the roadblock said they'd been ordered to completely close the road at 9:40. I knew the riders were actually starting off the main road, in the town, so I could safely go thorugh on the main road with time to spare, but the cops were adament. No one was getting through. Then, a miracle. A RAI car pulled up next to mine, and a guy I recognized as a RAI bigshot got out (I think it was actually Pancani, but I'm not positive). Three other cars with press stickers like mine were lined up behind the RAI car. The RAI guy listened impatiently as the cops explained the the road was "totalmente chiuso!" and then he got in his car and drove around the cops and kept going, with the other three press cars in tow. I said to the cop standing next to my car, "Vado con questi" (I'm going with these guys), and he said, "No, no!" but he didn't move to physically block me, so I followed the last press car, and we were off! For the next few minutes, I kept expecting to see a police car with lights flashing behind me, but it never appeared. Stevio, here we come!

Passo Stelvio, at last!

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In the parking lot of the stage headquarters, a group of cops climbed a snowbank to take pictures of each other against the mountain backdrop.

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I wasn't in a good enough position to get pictures of De Gendt's finish, but once a mob of photographers left to follow him, I had a front-row spot when Cunego and Nieve finished second and third on the stage.

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Hesjedal with a Garmin soigneur:

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Uran was helped through the finish area by Dario Cioni, now a business manager for Team Sky.

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Henao:

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Basso:

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Izagirre and Txurruka:

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De Gendt on the podium:

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Rodriguez looked like he was ready to hit the ski slopes as he walked to the press conference.

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