Weather: Clear skies, bright, mid 80s, Africa-Desert-Hot in the sun.
Duration: 9:30am to 7:00pm
Traveling: Daniel Wakefield Pasley & Ian Marshall (Castelli Marketing).
Travel: Hydrofoil Ferry ride from Sorrento to Ischia and back, 45-minutes each way, 29,90 Euro/person.

Objective(s): Garmin has a no-media policy on Time Trial & Team Time Trial days but we have yet to make “quality” contact with any of the riders, though we were introduced to Peter (who I’d met once before) and Ramunas Navardauskas, a 25-year old, 6’2 Lithuanian living in Oliva, Spain, so we need to lite-stalk. Make contact with the Colombians if possible. Avoid sunburn. Rent scooters and/or motorcycles and/or bicycles as we are on foot otherwise.

The Course: Point-to-point, Ischia to Florio.

Overview: We land, drink cappuccinos and wait for riders and team cars to arrive via ferry from Napoli. After Team Landing and subsequent “photoshooting” we hike the course uphill 3k to the Stado where the buses are parked. We BS (bus stalk) for thirty minutes then hike halfway to the top—the course is essentially an “up and over” or from the side (profile) a triangle—until encountering a 2-story tall blackish cloud of hive-moving bees swarming the course. An hour later the race begins. We photograph the race in three minute intervals while walking to the bottom of the course in time for Team Garmin-Sharp’s start.

Fashion Observations:

  1. What’s the story with Oakley Frogskins?! Every second European (both cycling and non-cycling) wears Frogskins. It’s remarkable and curious.
  2. Jean Shorts not-rolled,-but-folded, at the bottom.
  3. Samurai Top-knots.
  4. High-heel sneaker boots.
  5. Floral jeans.
  6. Even-skinner jeans.
  7. Casual “every-day” roller bagging, even on cobbles.

Today’s Highlights:

  1. An old man walking the course ahead of us whistling Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence.
  2. A kid with a broken finger in a splint riding a BMX bike singing "we are the champions" at the Race Helicopter as it passes.
  3. As we walk past an old man on the side of the course gardening, he tells us that he’s “training,” and that we should train too. Then, smiling, he thrusts an antique hoe in our general direction.
  4. The manager of the Balocco (a colazione fate I bioni) Stand/Kiosk across from the Garmin-Sharp bus forcing me to fist bump with him after learning that I was American.
  5. Hearing “speeda, speeda, speeda” as I walked past some kids in my Manual For Speed SPEED SPEED SPEED tee-shirt.
  6. Listening to hundreds of Italians chant “NIBALI NIBALI NIBALI” in the moments before Astana’s start.
  7. Listening to everyone in attendance within earshot of the PA countdown backwards TRE, DUE, UNO every three minutes as the teams started.
  8. Tasting for the first time an Italian Gatorade with 4 times the sali and minerali.
  9. Half way up the course we stopped to photograph some pink balloons. While stopped a young man in a pink Pantaniesque bandanna asked if we would like some pasta or something else to eat. We said that yes, we would like something to eat. He walked us to the end of a driveway where 30 or so friends and family were essentially tailgaiting/barbecuing under an awning of sorts. We ciao-ciaoed for several minutes with dozens of kids, grandmas, mothers, brothers, fathers, etc., until finally it was insisted that we sit and eat. Nobody spoke English. We don’t speak Italian. Five or so older women gave us food and watched us eat—they stared and smiled and waited for cues that we were satisfied. The first course was penne pasta with marinara and parmesan. The second course was ham polenta. The third course was a roll stuffed with homemade-looking sausage and grape-leaves. The fourth course was eggplant parmesan –which I didn’t eat because I don’t like eggplant, which “not eating it” was a problem because they were adamant and insistent about the eggplant. Before leaving we hugged, kissed, clasped, ciao-ciaoed, embraced, etc. with everyone there. Throughout the rest of the day we ran into any number of our new friends, everytime we at the very least embraced and ciao-ciaoed.
  10. On the way home our ferry made a special stop on the other side of the island (Forio) to pick up Sky, Radioshack, Garmin-Sharp, Lampre, as well as several other teams because the start of Stage 03 is in Sorrento tomorrow morning.