After spending Saturday in the relative calm of the team bus area and the press tent, I got my first taste yesterday at the stage start in Jesolo Lido of what the increased press presence is going to mean at this year's Giro.
The two stage starts I attended last year were pretty mellow affairs. Not only did I never see a rider mobbed by the press, but, other than Alessandra di Stefano, no one even seemed very interested in doing interviews. The Italian press chatted with the riders, and everyone else basically milled around, taking pictures of whoever ended up in front of them. Not so yesterday.
The area in front of the sign-in stage was a sea of cameras, each held by a twitching, adrenaline-filled, di Stefano wannabe, ready to pounce at the first sight of Basso or Armstrong (and amusing themselves in the meantime by making desultory lunges at the likes of Cunego and Sastre). It was not pretty. I had to break out my concert-positioning skills to get some photos. Luckily, it's been a good spring for live music in Minneapolis, so I'm in peak form right now.
Bettini and Veronica, looking as sweet as ever, came up on stage to greet the tifosi.
The Garmin riders rode to the start on comfort bikes for some (probably sponsor-related) reason.
Cancellara was all business, but Jens! was his usual, smiling self.
Star riders, including Garzelli, Gilbert, and the day's eventual stage winner, Petacchi, were brought to the front of the stage for a brief interview and photo op.
Basso blesses the assembled masses:
then signs in
Quinziato was looking hot, while Basso was pulling some funny faces in an interview (but still looking hot, of course).
Cunego wore what looked like a wedding ring on a chain around his neck.
Bruseghin signs in, sporting a bizzare mullet-mohawk hybrid
Di Luca had predicted that his team would lose only 20 seconds to the winners of the ttt, and he was only off by two seconds.
Security clears a path for Cavendish to ride out:
Armstrong signs in as the cameras roll. Asked which Giro stage he liked the best, he laughed and said, "The last one."
-- Susie Hartigan for Podium Cafe