By the time we got to the ferry in Genoa, we had a few hours to kill, but being in Italy you never know where you might get caught up in traffic. So we entered the compound for those waiting to board the boat to Sicily. Within a few hours most of the team had arrived, the bus, and a few cars. Still missing was the truck with all the bikes and equipment, and the Van. They were running a bit late, and by the sounds of the phone call, a bit stressed about it being a bit late. By taking the ferry to Sicily, we cut about 1400km of driving out, and when you think about the country you miss out driving through, it was a no brainer for most of the teams. Time was moving on, we were getting a bit worried about the truck, but with two hours to sail, in she rolled, and not a moment too soon. The ship left at 10pm, and arrived in Palermo at 6pm the next day. A nice relaxing cruise, a bit of down time, and a chance to hang with the staff for a day before the real work starts. A sun deck and a nice restaurant, a bar, good coffee, what more could you ask for. I had a great plan of catching up with a few stories during the many hours on board, but I made the usual mistake of taking my laptop on the bus for some work before we boarded. But I forgot to take it with me, and upon leaving land, there was no access to the vehicle deck (I should have know this from multiple ferry crossings in my own country, but no). Shit, a good plan foiled again, so I spent hours wandering the boat looking for something to read or do, sleep was almost a good idea, until you lay on the bed and felt the full force of the engines vibrating the room to a nice dull thumping noise.
We arrived some time later in Sicily, and the city looked fantastic from the boat. It was when you finally got to land, then, the real fun started. We only had 35km to the hotel, but the locals said count on and hour and a half. Well they were pretty much on the money, lucky I was in a car, I can’t imagine driving the bus or truck through some of Palermo’s streets. I wondered why there was no lanes painted on some of wider roads, well in a minute or two I realised why. Traffic like I have never encounted before, ever, not like anywhere in Asia, India, or China, but like all of those countries bad habits in one street, cars everywhere, all over the road, with multiple scooters and motorbike whizzing through what small gaps there was through the cars. Red lights meant go, and by all means you can drive into oncoming traffic on the other side of the road and then throw a red light or two in as well (think you get more points for multiple infractions per trip). We had less than 3km to get to the highway, this took most of an hour. Not only were there cars double parked, but also triple parked, and for sure it was only a two lane street. Stop for a second at an intersection, and it would be ten minutes before there was a inch to stick your nose in to get to the other side of the intersection. After a short while of this, I hardened up and was just as aggressive as the rest of the cars. But upon looking around there was not a single car without many dents all over them, all except us in a new Audi A6, looking very out of place. Maybe the local authorities gave up years ago painting the lines on the road, as no one was using them anyway.
Heading into port, Palmero, sicily, and doesn't it look nice.
Arriving at the hotel, we picked one of the best spots in the carpark, there were six teams expected, and we were the first. And what a spot, over-looking the sea, the coastline going on for miles, what a sight. What a fantastic workshop for the week, as long as it didn’t rain, but the sun was shining, I was feeling pretty good about my first Giro. With the first stage happening in a few days, we had plenty of work to get on with. A few frames to swap out, and a few new bikes to build, and there was no time like the present. Another treat for the Giro, was four very small Japanese mechanics (opps, I mean Engineers) from Shimano, turning up with two new 2009 Dura-ace group sets to play with. But more on this later, as soon as the heat dies on it, I will post some pics and a report on the new changes for the season (it is still top secret I officially). We have a team of three mechanics for the tour, and already we are all busy, and by the sound of things, the work never stops.
the Shimano Ninja's, with a case full of top secret 2009 products.
The team for the tour is looking pretty fit, and sounding pretty positive, which is always good to hear, always makes work seem not that bad when you have motivated riders to work for. On the riders list is (in no particular order), Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Adam Hansen, Andre Griepel, Morris Possoni, Marco Pinotti, Tony Martin, Rabon Fran……, and Sivtov. A couple of Italians, a couple of Brits, a Aussie, two Germans, a Russian and a Czech, so a good selection. Of course the crack team of mechanics for the tour, myself, Perry and Werner, both these guys I have worked with on a few races, so we already work well together, and are not scared of hard work. There is two Kiwi riders in the tour, Julian Dean, the NZ road champ, riding for Slipstream, who by the way has another Kiwi mechanic working for them, Kris Witherington or Grommet to his friends. Also Tim Gudsel riding for his French team (I can never spell it, so I won’t even try). Not sure if Scotty Geater is working for his Astana team, but will soon find out. Roll on the race. We have a bit of a roster with the mechanics for time in the race, so we all get a bit of a rest. I have been hotel bitch for the last three days, thus the updates, I am still waiting for the team and the bikes to get back now, and it’s just rolled on to 21:45, so it will be a late one. It’s warm outside, I just had a nice risotto for dinner, some nice red wine, and now I am in the truck filling in time writing, listening to some nice Italian opera on the radio, waiting for the onslaught of four cars filled with bikes. And another late night.
The wicked view from our workshop for the week, Sicilian southern coast.
More pics of the trip down here.