STAGE 04
POLICASTRO BUSSENTINO / SERRA SAN BRUNO
246 km

Team: Daniel Wakefield Pasley & Ian Marshall
Course Overview: From Policastro Bussentino the course moves south along the coast until heading inland at Marinella Di S.Eufemia (165k) for the the only two climbs of consequence; the first at 203,7k is Vibo Valentia (498 meters), the second at 229,2k is Croce Ferrata (907 meters).

Weather: Hot, scattered heavy showers, cold when wet.
Objectives:

  1. Go to the start. We successfully did that.
  2. Interview Nathan Haas. We successfully did that (see below).
  3. Photograph the start. We successfully did that (see below).
  4. Speed to the last climb on the A3. We successfully did a portion fo that. Side Note: 90% of the A3 is under road construction and as such limited to one lane of traffic in either direction.
  5. Stop somewhere to use the Internet. We DID NOT successfully do that due to limited time due to heavy traffic.
  6. Find the course, find the last climb. We did SOME of that.
  7. Photograph the last climb. We DID NOT successfully do that.

MFS Overview

Policastro is a small coastal town, one of several in a string of towns populating the edge of a large, flat, southern-facing Mediterranean Bay. The Team buses were parked just north of Policastro in what is essentially a combination beach and marina parking lot. The start was on the access road connecting the parking lot to the main road, which main road is basically a Coast Highway, much like the PCH. We photographed the start, took a wrong turn on the way out of town, accidentally drove INTO a Castle, turned-around, found the road out of town, drove east through many tunnels on many bridges, climbed 3,000 feet, drove into a monsoon, made it to the Autostrade, got on the Austostrade, then sat/drove in on-and-off traffic for several hours. At Marinella Di S.Eufemia (165k) we made it onto the course. In Sant’Onofrio we stopped at the Caffeteria Bar Strado for cappuccinos as well as to watch the race on the TV in the corner in the ceiling above the gelato, and to accidentally converse with the locals about Nibali.

This area of Italy is a mix of ancient mountaintop and hillside-style villages, and quasi-urban Brutalist aparmtento clusters. It’s rural and bucolic, it's also depressing and trashy, it may depend which way you're facing or whether you’re at the bottom of a hill or on top of one.

Vibo Valentia is built into the side of a nearly vertical hillside. The village is 1200 hundred feet long/high and less than a mile wide. From a distance it looks like  hundreds of multi-colored lego blocks taped to a green wall. The course road switchbacks it’s way right up through the center of town from the bottom to the top past hundreds of thousands of row houses, terraced and tight. Millions of kids, grandmothers, adults, etc. crowd the street and enthuiastically watch us drive past. We are on our way to the last and larger climb, the one we thought would be better. It wasn’t, it was dark and wooded and ten maybe twelve people were out. We kept going, waiting to run out of gas in the last corner due to a slight miscalculation and general free-floating laziness - at this point we experienced acute anxiety about our situation, there was essentially no way off the course and any minute  a speeding armada of motorcycles, vans, team cars, scooters, and eventually 207 professional athletes, were going to need the entire width of the road for a heavily publicized on live TV cycling event.  Eventually we made it to the finish ( and OFF the course) where it rained heavily and Enrico Battiglian (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) won the stage.

Following a race is about calculations (word problems).

Guiding Principles:

  1. The race guide has estimated split times for dozens of key locations on the route, generally there are three times; a slow pace, a medium pace, a fast pace.
  2. If you want to get on the course somewhere in particular, you look in the guide, find the time to beat, and beat it.
  3. Not driving on the course is problematic; you get lost, you can’t speed, it can be hard to park near the course or get back on the course, and/or generally make it through the traffic and congestion buffer zone caused by the race.
  4. Driving on the course is problematic in that you are forced to stay ahead of the race until the end, or stop and watch it once.
  5. The rolling enclosure LOCK-DOWN comes, on average, 10-15 minutes in advance of the lead group.
  6. Staying ahead of the rolling enclosure is imperative. Also, it’s best to leave additional time for parking and scouting and getting set-up.

Today's iPad-as-camera Count: 15
Today's Tunnel Count: ∞

Things I’ve learned about Italy

  1. Italy has nature. It has sweeping valleys, steep/craggy mountains, rolling hills, sloping knolls, deep hollers, wide open spaces, thick woods, dark forests, twisted canyons, creeks and rivers, grand drainages, etc. Italy might be good at Outside, and outdoor recreation, which would explain all the hiking boot manufacturers and Paola Pezzo.
  2. Italians are commited to tunnels, Italian infrastructure is tunnel-centric. If in doubt, Italians will tunnel. Old tunnels. New tunnels. Tunnels under construction. Tunnels and Bridges. Bridges and Tunnels. Lengthy sections of Autostrade seamlessly alternates between tunnel and bridge. In southern Italy, if you are on the way to Serra San Bruno, you are either in the ground or above it, you are rarely on it.
  3. You can’t Instagram in an Italian Tunnel.
  4. Italian Advil is 600 milligrams.

High Points:

  1. Averaging one cappuccino an hour for seven hours.
  2. Discovering the combination of a cappuccino with an Italian 12oz bottled Coke back. Side Notes: Italian Coke is a Mexican Coke, apparently everywhere in the world they drink Mexican Cokes, except  in the United States.
  3. Watching a TV camera operator, just beyond the finishline and six feet up on a "movie people" crane, toss the end of his still burning cigarette over the heads of several dozen specators into a puddle. Where it literally hissed.

Low Points

  1. Ian speaking Spanish to everyone, everywhere, convinced it will work.
  2. Ian singing along to Jaunes’ La Camisa Negra.
  3. Hairbo Polka (an assortment of licorce flavored Gummy candies).
  4. Arguing with a hotel manager about the lack of WIFI (weefee) through Google Translator and hand gestures.
  5. Discovering that my sandwich board-style Photographer Vest is “directional” like any other shirt or jacket.
  6. Almost running out of gas on the final climb of the race, nowhere to pull out, nowhere to turn off, no gas station in sight on, the gas light on, 4k to go.

Nathan Haas, about this morning

"I woke up at 8:06 exactly. I looked over at my roomate’s bed and he was gone which meant I had a few mintues to myself. I got dressed then I went to breakfast. I ate eggs and a big bowl of muësli. I checked twitter but there was nothing interesting on there so I watched Big Bang Theory on my laptop instead."

Dear Manual For Speed Readers,
Please put something interesting on Twitter for Nathan Hass to read/interact with. We like Nathan. He talks to us. He is candid and approachable. He works VERY hard. But there was nothing interesting on Twitter. @NathanPeterHaas

This Report was filed from: Room 307 Hotel Mercure Cosenza Rende, Cosenza, Province of Cosenza, Italy.

Facts about Cosenza taken from the 2013 Giro d’Italia FIGHT FOR PINK Race Book:

  1. Population: 69,700
  2. Established: IV century B.C.
  3. Known for savory donuts and lots of pork products.
  4. Known also for the Bruzi, the ancient people who inhabited Calabria.
  5. First time the Giro went to Cosenza was in 1929; the last time was in 1989.
  6. Stage 05 of the Giro begins in Cosenza.