Giro d'Italia 2012

The beauty of Europe... a side trip over the border into Italy to catch a couple of stages of the Giro d'Italia. The plan was to be on the home straight into Cervere for the sprint that was sure to end stage 13 then visit the depart of stage 14 in Cherasco. Bonus features that came by chance were the amazing views en route in the Ubaye valley and the dinner we had in Borolo which was just down the road from the stages planned.

For what it's worth, the drive, around 630km round trip, can be compared to popping down to Canberra from Sydney's North Shore. Well - minus the mountain range on the way. Yes, Europe is small... or is it Australia that is big? wink

Amazingly things went pretty smoothly, plus a few bits of very good luck thrown in made the trip.

Mind you, it didn't look that things would be so easy when we came across the first road block about 20km from Cervere. Not a good sign! But, a few tricky turns here and there and some messing with the sat. nav. found us parking up maybe 500m from the finishing straight with plenty of time to spare. This is all after an 8am departure from Faucon in France of course.

After walking around a bit we took up a spot for this stage on the barriers around 150m from the finish line, with a good view of the big screen. Interestingly that screen was needed to watch to run in to the straight, and as once the riders blasted by (just an amazing blur!) it was very hard to see what was going on down the road!

We were very lucky the next morning for the start in Cherasco, finding a parking spot literally meters from the road block into the town centre. A couple of hours before depart we were expecting to find the road closed long before this point and have to park up at the bottom of the steep hill into town (it's a medieval place with cramped streets built top of said hill) and walk up. Incredibly though this didn't happen and the luck with parking very close came about.

Took in a few sights and such of the build up before grabbing a spot in the on and off sunshine in the 'tunnel' riders have to navigate to sign on. Barely a metre wide on a cobbled street with cheering fans either side this must feel like a mission in itself for some, especially those still sleepy or feeling the pain of the race so far.

Great stuff though - again able to get so close to stars like Cavendish that one could pat the world champ on the back in all the madness!

12:31

Literally 2 minutes after walking into the promo area Pratiwi is weighed down with freebies. Time to find a free bag!

12:33

The Pinarello display. Shame they aren't giving some of this stuff away wink

12:50

Directly on the finishing line and a little past... looks like you have to be really early if you want to stand here!

13:05

Walking around some more... on the finishing straight and having a look at one of the merchandise stalls.

13:55

Barriers a bit high? I say, "We need a pile of bricks" Look around to find half a kerb stone in the bushes. Job done!

14:00

Italian police working hard... nice work if you can get it! wink

14:05

Here comes the caravan! Get to watch whatever promo group stops in front of you... & collect more freebies of course!

14:20

Some of the 'characters' that stood out from the rest of the crowd wink

15:15

Waiting, waiting, waiting.... waiting, waiting and more waiting wink

15:24

Here they come!!!

15:25

Greenedge leading the way as they pass us, Lancaster pulling off leaving Goss, sadly a bit early as he came in 6th.

15:26

And... it's all over! Few minutes of back markers, some looking quite broken even on this short stage wink

15:45

Time to go home. Oh go on then... just one more free snack. This time prosciutto wrapped bread sticks. Yuuuum! tongue

16:50

Driving round looking for a place to eat has never been so good. Finally ended up in the beautiful village of Barolo.

17:45

A little pre-dinner walk in Barolo & what may be the best dinner of our Europe trip yet. Food here was sooooo good tongue

07:10

Cherasco certainly dressed for the part this morning... seeing some of the sights before the riders show up.

07:20

Marching bands, flag throwing medieval type dudes and funky drummers to entertain the crowds.

07:30

Always more sponsors freebies to collect, for young and... erm... just a little bit older alike wink

07:50

Ask a model to walk 200m on cobbled streets in high heels inches from screaming fans carrying a huge trophy? Sure! wink

08:50

Just hanging in the sun (while it lasts) & having a good time watching the goings on. Now... where are those riders!?

09:02

Looks like the Vacansoleil guys have a plan: sign on early before the mayhem. Couldn't believe how fast they rode by!

09:08

A veritable traffic jam of riders. Negotiating VIPs, photographers & their peers who've stopped to sign autographs.

09:14

Time to release the balloons...

09:15

A few of the Greenedge guys... some looking a little fresher than others wink

09:16

Robbie Hunter looking cool as you'd like, & an Euskatel-Euskadi rider who looks like his day can't end soon enough sad

09:17

Eisel enjoys another impressive lead out wink Seems everyone came to see Cav. The crowd pretty much vanished after him!

09:29

The peloton leaves town. As seen from the wrong street as we were not organised enough! Oh well, can't win 'em all wink

11:00

Failing to find a cafe with views we settled for lunch parked in the rain. 6€ will buy you this in an Italian bakery.

12:20

Hairpins on the Italian side of Col de Larche. Suppose I should be calling this the Colle della Maddalena then wink

12:25

We passed a small lake approaching the French border, then the valley view just after it on the Col de Larche.

13:15

The view passing through Jausiers, and on the road West of here (towards Barcelonnette).

13:55

Just stunning scenery all along the Ubaye valley. Here we're looking up and down river from Méolans-Revel.

14:10

Where Ravin du Pré la Pierre meets the Ubaye. For scale: the pink dot on the bridge in the last shot is Pratiwi.

14:20

Looking East up the Ubaye valley. The light was less than ideal so have taken some liberties in post processing wink

14:30

Rolling green hills around Lac de Serre-Ponçon & Pratiwi pointing out the location of her dream home wink

16:25

Almost home and still enjoying the trip & views. I think this is by the Serre la Vignasse but don't hold me to that!