Friday 16 November 2018

Giro D'Italia Diary: 'We'll try to hold onto the pink jersey as long as we can'

Monday May 7, Rest Day - Sicily

Nicolas Roche. Photo: Sportsfile
Nicolas Roche. Photo: Sportsfile

Nicolas Roche

As rest days go on Grand Tours, today doesn't really rank up there with the best of them.

In fact we didn't get much rest at all.

Last night we had no massage after the stage as all the kit had to be packed up by 8pm and sent on the cargo plane to Italy.

The rider transfer from Israel to Sicily meant that my BMC team-mates and I were up at 6.30 this morning, or 5.30 Italian time, for the hour-long coach drive to the airport.

We were lucky. Some of the other teams were up an hour earlier.

The hotel restaurant opened up for us to have breakfast but to be honest I wasn't very hungry at that hour of the morning so I just grabbed some fruit and a coffee to get me to the airport.

Much of the journey was spent travelling along the Egyptian border and coming from borderless Europe I was fascinated by the 50km-long barb wire fence running alongside the road. The airport itself was in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but sandy desert to be seen for miles.

I think it opened specially for us because as we were leaving they were closing the shops behind us. It was only 10am.

On the flight, I was seated beside one of the Sky soigneurs and a Katusha soigneur but after a quick greeting, tiredness meant there wasn't much talking so I grabbed a sandwich and watched the first hour and a half of a movie until my iPad died and I decided to close my eyes and try to sleep.

In Sicily, it was nice to see our team buses when we landed and the familiar leather recliners made the hour-long journey to our new hotel a bit more comfortable, which is just as well because the hotel itself wouldn't be on my top ten destinations for an off-season holiday.

The five single beds in our room make me wonder whether a pair of dwarfs had enough of the accommodation and decided to move out but at least it's only myself and Rohan sharing, so we have a bit of space to throw our stuff around.

Although you're never worried about food in Italy, it's also nice to have our kitchen truck here and after a nice lunch on board we got changed and went training for an hour and a half to loosen the legs out after the flight.

Each day the team soigneurs collect our suitcases after breakfast, load them into the van and drop them into our hotel room ahead of the stage finish.

Reorganise

In order to give them a bit of an easier time, I decided to reorganise my bags and take some of the heavier stuff out of my case to store in the compartments on the bus so that they don't have to lug everything around every day.

While doing this though, I discovered that my rain bag has gone missing somewhere between here and Israel, which means I'm banjaxed if the weather turns for the worse in the next few days.

Tomorrow we start the first Italian stage of this Giro with Rohan leading the race by a single second from defending champion Tom Dumoulin.

We will definitely have our work cut out for us defending it tomorrow and the next day as I don't think the sprinters' teams will be too keen to help us much on such lumpy stages.

If we can hold it until Thursday, the first summit finish on Mount Etna will be a big test for us but after the death of team founder Andy Rihs a few weeks ago, it's nice to be able to honour his memory by having the pink jersey at BMC and we will try to hold onto it for as long as we can.

Giro d'Italia, Live

Eurosport 1, 12.0

Irish Independent

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