Monday 19 February 2018

Sam Bennett: 'It's a dodgy area - guys were trying to steal our bikes'

Race leader of the Giro, Fernando Gaviria of Quick-Step Floors, poses in the pink jersey at Altavilla Milicia during yesterday’s rest day. Photo: Getty Images
Race leader of the Giro, Fernando Gaviria of Quick-Step Floors, poses in the pink jersey at Altavilla Milicia during yesterday’s rest day. Photo: Getty Images

Sam Bennett

Monday, April 8,

Rest Day: Palermo

After yesterday's stage, all of the riders had a coach transfer to the airport and a one-hour flight to Palermo, where we would spend today's first rest day.

Having arrived at around 10pm, my team-mates and I walked straight into our food truck for dinner, and hearing other teams mutter about how nice it looked reminded me how lucky we are to have a state-of-the-art mobile kitchen with us, ready to cook whatever food we want, for the whole race.

Although we went to bed a bit later last night, today's rest day meant I could lie in a bit later before heading to breakfast with the rest of the lads.

Afterwards, we waited on our bikes to arrive with the team cars and trucks after their overnight trip from the ferry.

Despite the mechanics putting the bikes inside the team cars rather than having them on the roof for the journey, they told us they had guys trying to open the boot and car doors to get at them when they were stopped at lights a couple of times near the hotel, and it didn't take long to figure out we're staying in a bit of a dodgy area.

The mechanics have huge custom-made Bora-Hansgrohe bollards and signs in their truck, which they use to block off space in hotel car parks so that they can work on the bikes after each stage, but today they were stolen, in broad daylight.

Sore throat

There were some dodgy looking dudes walking around all day so we made sure to leave nothing lying around anywhere after that.

I woke up this morning with a bit of a sore throat but it's gone now and in general I feel much better than I have the past few days. But I can't compare today's feeling with racing.

Usually, I do some tempo efforts on the rest day to remind my body that the race isn't over, but today I just rode for 20 minutes out the road before turning back without making any hard efforts at all.

Having suffered from some sort of tummy bug the last couple of days, I didn't want to be hammering my immune system.

I've been so sick that I haven't had a massage since the first stage so it was nice to get loosened out this afternoon. Apart from the usual leg rub, my back had started to get stiff again so I got that fixed too.

I've had a tight back for a few years now but it was only after my crash on stage one at the Tour de France last July that I discovered I had broken it in a previous accident. A scan revealed that the vertebrae had pushed in towards the spinal chord in a previous accident but stopped at the right moment and just healed itself.

It's either from when I got hit by a car while training at home a few years ago or after I crashed in another race. Either way, I was lucky I didn't do myself more damage not knowing about it.

A bit of stretching afterwards means I'm feeling a lot better now and ready for dinner.

Eating seems to have become my new pastime today, which is always nice in Italy. I've lost a bit of weight the last few days, so I don't even feel guilty.

As it's the 100th edition of the Giro, Panini have brought out a sticker album to celebrate the race - exactly like the Panini soccer albums I used to pester my mam to buy when I was a kid, there are packs containing stickers of each rider in the race to go into the album, which is pretty cool.

All of the riders were given an album in Sardinia and were told we'd get a pack of stickers each at the start of every stage.

This afternoon I walked in on my room-mate Lukas trying to sort his album out.

With his bed covered in stickers, he had them separated into teams, and then piles of riders that he had doubles of to swap.

I've only seen a few stickers floating around before today but I just found out that my Portuguese team-mate Jose Mendes got four boxes of them that he was supposed to pass out to us.

Instead, he tried to open them all in secret so that he could complete his sticker album first.

There was nearly a riot as nine grown men turned into eight-year-old boys and searched through the boxes for their own sticker.

At least I have a Sam Bennett sticker now. It might be the only one in my album, but I'm happy out.

Giro d'Italia,

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