The theme of today's report is adventures in stage finish positioning.
I'm starting to learn the art of positioning oneself for good photo opportunities at stage finishes. Two or three hours before the finish of a stage, you can go wherever you want with a press pass. As the riders approach the finish, however, the RCS security people start laying down the law, in a (largely vain) attempt to manage the chaos surrounding the top riders.
More on the flip...
Past the finish line and the podium stage, there's a fenced-in press tent with a tv and chairs. It's a great place to watch the stage unfold on the tv, but if you stay in there until the end of the stage, one of the security guys comes and mans the gate, allowing only the big-shot reporters from RAI, Gazzetta, etc., to come out onto the road while the top riders are passing. I experienced this last year at Passo Fedaia, where we were kept inside the press tent until the first twenty or so riders had finished. So now, when I see the security guys shepherding stray reporters into the press tent in anticipation of the finish, I hide myself among the team soigneurs who gather just past the press tent, holding drinks and dry clothes for the riders. At San Martino and Alpe di Siusi, it worked perfectly!
Then it just becomes a question of where to direct your attention when there are ten things happening at once. The riders who are gunning for the stage win and hit the line at full speed are still going very fast when they reach us, so we have to be careful not to get in their way. But if you stay too far on the sidelines, you'll never get close to the top riders. At San Martino, Di Luca shot into our midst, his face drenched in sweat, and was immediately surrounded, and that was the last I saw of him until the podium ceremony.
As more riders finish, they're spread out all over a stretch of road, and you never know who will end up where, so good photo ops are often a matter of luck. Things get very hectic and crowded. There are riders moving in both directions, as the later arrivals encounter the earlier finishers on their way back down to the team buses. Then the podium ceremony starts while the last finishers are still riding past the stage, so you have to dodge them to get podium shots. It's so much fun!
Here are a few photos from the finish at Alpe di Siusi.
Lovqvist in his last moments (for now, anyway) in the maglia rosa
Armstrong has a rare moment of solitude as he rides through the finish area:
This is what he looked like about two minutes later:
Cunego apparently adheres to the superstition about not shaving on the day of a big race:
Scarponi was one of the few riders who didn't immediately start putting on warm clothes:
Di Luca climbs onto the podium:
And favors the press with a smile:
Lovkvist exchanged the maglia rosa for the maglia bianca:
Cavendish huddled with Zabel before heading for the bus. On his way out, he spotted Tyler Farrar, and they exchanged smiles and greetings.
Pippo displayed impressive bike handling skills riding through the chaos one-handed:
I guess Jens! didn't have a nice polka dot hat like Fabian's to wear under his helmet for the ride down, so he improvised by wearing a musette on his head:
-- Susie Hartigan for Podium Cafe