Caerano S. Marco to Biadene.
With 121 riders still in the race at this point, and with 1-2 minute increments between riders, it was almost a full 2.5 hours of sending riders out of the gate, one at a time, on the 17k point to point time trial. The course was straightforward, and began in the town of San Marco. Yes, the San Marco known for its productivity in manufacturing athletic apparel.
After exiting the pink carpet (which is one of my favorite parts of the Giro Donne, the “red” carpet is a bubblegum pink, resembling the maglia rosa) and the rocking DJ (who made the start feel more like a discotheque than a time trial), we rode through Cornuda, followed by Crocetta del Montello, and on to the finish town of Biadene. The turns were quick through flower box lined streets, tall corn fields, and historic church plazas. Cycling fans were joined by those enjoying their morning cappuccino and croissant, and the cheers were heard all along the course. It was 104F, and humid. That is hot. Really hot. It was great 4th of July weather, however, I found myself in Italy, where they do not actually celebrate America’s Independence Day. Might as well make the most of it.
I started a solid 2hrs before the race leaders. The motorcade escorted us as we blasted through the towns well above the recommended speed for autos. Then it happened. A car entered the closed course, and the terror filled my veins. The driver was equally shocked to see my escort frantically waving her off the road as I approached a sharp left turn at 49k/h. The woman panicked and tried to throw the car into reverse, right into me as I attempted to dive the gap in between the car, the corner, a picket fence, and a rose bush. I let out a blood curling scream, and was positive I was meeting my end on the San Marco time trial course. I now completely understand what people mean when they say that they saw their life flashed before their eyes. I saw it. It was the most terrified I have ever been. The car screeched to a halt in the nick of time, I dove the inside of the corner, through the dirt, kept the bike upright, and resumed my time trial on course. Manel encouraged me in the radio, “no panic, Alison, no panic, full gas, up up up…”. Maybe an adrenaline rush can assist in some regards to a time trial, but this was beyond adrenaline. My blood turned cold, and my heart pounded in my chest. My hands went cold. With Manel’s help, I maintained composure and continued. I finished the time trial with the fastest time of the day, but still had well over 100 riders to go.
I remained in this “hot seat” for the good portion of the day. However, it turned into a good day for the sprinters and some very strong riders, and Ina took the win. Wow. What a motor. We finished the day with solid rides. USA had three riders in the top 10! ShelleyO finished 6th with an incredible ride, Neben 8th, and I finished 9th.
It was the 4th of July, and we definitely saw fireworks on the TT course at the Giro Donne. I will take this top ten finish with pride, but not satisfaction. More to build on, but USA is strong. I was proud to be an American on this 4th of July, but was a little homesick.
Ficarolo to Lendinara.
Just 90k you may think. Ninety measly flat kilometers with nothing else to worry about besides the typical overpasses, narrow roads, canals, bridges, trains, roundabouts, speedbumps, protests, and heat. Oh yes, it was hot again. I think it was a solid 105F with humidity. That is hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. Again. Narrow roads? Try a bike path along a dike by a river. Canals? I guess that goes with the bike path and rivers. Bridges? Small narrow ones over little streams in middle of towns. Trains. Yes. Roundabouts. I have done so many roundabouts, I don’t know which one is which anymore. Speedbumps? I think I got some major air time going over those at 60k/h coming into the finish.
I arrived to the race start and saw the now typical pomp and circumstance of the Giro Donne which I am coming to know and love. The festivities are incredible. There was an entire crowd of people at the starts with flags and banners. A parade for us! How exciting. However, since my Italian knowledge is next to none (my French only gets me so far in Italy), it was soon discovered that it wasn’t a parade, or a party, but actually a protest. There was still the typical party for the stage start, but there was an additional group of people there demanding to make a statement. A local corporation laid-off a large portion of their employees, and the people were protesting. 30 minute delay to race start. 30 minutes to watch the temperature gauge creep up from 101 to 103 to 104 to….108!? With some negotiations, the policemen let the protesters use the publicity of the race to make their statements, and the race was on its way!
USA got to the front immediately in anticipation of the narrow roads. It was a hard start to a relatively short day. In the end, it was going to come down to a sprint, and we were making every effort to keep Shelley in position. With an amazing effort by Theresa, Shelley was on the podium with a solid 3rd place!
We are officially coming together.
Following the race, it was a 300k transfer into the mountains for a tough Stage 5.