clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Giro d'Italia: On the scene at stage 21

For most of the afternoon yesterday, things were pretty mellow at the time trial finish in Milano.  Every minute or so, a rider would finish, get a drink and a towel from a soigneur, and maybe hang out for a few minutes before riding out to the team buses.

There were a few brief bursts of excitement in the early going, but they gave no hint of the mayhem to come.  As Fabio Baldato finished, the announcer was lauding him as one of the oldest riders in the race, and for having been a professional for 18 years.  As he crossed the line, Baldato sat up and raised his arms as if winning a stage, to the delight of the cheering tifosi.

Jens Voigt was another popular finisher.  The entire VIP seating area across from the podium had apparently been reserved for people from Nobili, a CSC sponsor, and each CSC rider, after finishing and cooling down a bit, would ride over and schmooze with the sponsor for a few minutes.  The Nobili folks were going particularly nuts for Voigt, and he spent a lot of time with them.  Here he is giving his cap to a little girl:


All pretense of order in the finish area collapsed with the arrival of Paolo Bettini.  The full press corps had gathered by then, and from Bettini on, every big star was mobbed in the press area.

Just before Bettini finished, I spotted his wife and little daughter in a VIP area, and I got this shot of Veronica cheering as her papa rode past:


After doing a few interviews, Bettini lifted Veronica onto his handlebars and rode slowly out through a throng of happy photographers.


Simoni, Di Luca, Pellizotti, Bruseghin, Ricco; every few minutes there was a new press hogpile.

As he had in Urbino, Simoni spent a lot of time with the press, doing multiple on-camera interviews.


Pellizotti, just five seconds out of third place at the start of the day, had obviously been gunning for that podium spot.  As Bruseghin approached the finish, Pellizotti motioned for the press around him to quiet down, pressed his radio to his ear, and strained to see the clock above the finish line.  When Bruseghin finished with a time just good enough to keep him on the podium, Pellizotti shrugged and smiled, then went on with his interviews.

Contador's finish precipitated a near-riot.  He shot past the press area without stopping, so everyone ran after him into the narrow chute leading to the exit of the fenced-in finish area.  The motorcycles and cars that had been following him also went into  the chute.  By the time Contador turned around to make his way back to the podium, there was a logjam of cars, motorcycles, tv cameras, and reporters.  Contador was understandably frustrated at being trapped in the chute, and he let loose with some emphatic arm waving until a path was cleared for him to escape.


He rode back toward the podium, scurrying reporters and photographers in tow, and as we ran behind him, I saw out of the corner of my eye that someone had opened a gate in the fencing, and the tifosi were pouring in from the side of the road.  When we got near the podium, Contador had already gone through, and the race officials had pulled a section of fencing across the road.  Irresistible force meets immovable object.  I've been to my share of open-dance-floor concerts, so the press of people didn't bother me, but the large tv cameras being jostled around were a worrying element not found in your typical mosh pit.  After a few minutes, the officials started letting those with press passes in through a gate in the fence, and I got in before the podium ceremony started.

The podium ceremony was a lot of fun.  When it was time to present the maglia rosa, Contador ran onto the stage and leapt up onto the podium.  He looked wonderfully happy throughout the ceremony.


Not so Ricco, who looked glum on the second step of the podium.  Here, Contador kisses the trophy while Bruseghin applauds him and Ricco gives him the evil eye:


One final note: I just looked at some of my earlier threads, and to answer lyne's question, yes, Bennati really is that hot in person.  He's probably the most attractive person, male or female, that I have ever seen in person.  Here he is at the final podium ceremony:


That's it for my reports from this year's Giro.  I can't wait for next year!

          Susie Hartigan for Podium Cafe