STAGE 05
COSENZA / MATERA
203km

Team: Daniel Wakefield Pasley & Ian Marshall
Course Overview: The course heads north and then east from Cosenza (to the East Coast of Italy) towards Villapiana Lido, a small coastal town on the Ionian Sea, then north along the coast until heading inland for two climbs; the first at 175k to climb Montescaglioso (309 meters), the second at 190k to climb into the finish-town of Matera (396 meters).

Notes/Observations

  1. The race organizers love ACDC’s Hells Bells, the crowds here love ACDC’s Hells Bells, every morning at the start we hear ACDC’s Hells Bells.
  2. There are two kinds of start towns in the Giro: small towns and big towns. Cosenza is a big town. The crowd was thick. The parking was sketchy.
  3. Directors, managers, soigneurs, moto pilots, judges, course officials, TV cameramen, bus drivers—essentially everyone except the riders—smoke cigarettes.
  4. Today we passed a small roadside castle with a TV satellite dish installed at a weird angle onto the castle’s parapet wall.
  5. Team Bus vs. Logging Truck standoffs are common in the hills and mountains of southern Italy during the Giro. Some one-hundred-and-eighty-degree hairpins are so steep and tight the Team Busses (e.g. the Saxo-Tinkoff Bus on the way out of the mountains into the coastal town of Villapiana Lido) simultaneously scrape/wedge their front and rear bumpers through the apex of the turn.
  6. The post rain smell of Eucalyptus coupled with a breeze coming off the Ionian Sea in the village of Francaviall Marittima.
  7. There is still snow in the mountains of Southern Italy. There are mountains everywhere in Southern Italy.
  8. On the way into the finish-town of Matera, where the weather was Biblical, I put my sunglasses and windshield wipers (rain!) on at the very same time.
  9. If you wear Oakley Frogskins. If you use/employ Croakies. If you hang your sunglasses around your neck when in the shade and/or indoors. If you eat croissants and other flaky-type pastries in the shade and/or indoors. If you do these things, you will collect/catch buttery flaky crumbs on the inside of your glasses.
  10. Mid-weekday Italian men over the age of 50-60 enjoy sitting on a kitchen chair in the middle of the street, in the shade from a balcony above them, where they follow (almost imperceptibly) the progress of pedestrians and scooters and cars as they pass.
  11. Italians know how to stand in a street-facing doorway with style and with grace. They make it romantic.
  12. Matera from a distance looks like the town in Time Bandits where the ancient warrior dude wears a bull-head when fighting.1
  13. Professional cyclists are remarkably comfortable high-speed threading through the tightest and sketchiest of spaces between cars and cameras and people.
  14. Dogs in Italy often walk themselves.
  15. Walking down the course just after the finish, still at the top where the crowds were thick, a 15-year old kid with a Mohawk gave me a high-five and a smile just for being me, just for being at the same event he was at.
  16. Italian crowds know when an event is over, they also know how to expediently and effectively leave a recently ended event.
  17. Team Katusha is a part of a Russian Global Cycling Project, look it up.2
  18. Cadel Evans smiled and laughed after the finish today, he looks strong, he looks confident, he looks almost happy, like he’s enjoying himself.3
  19. I’ve been to a place called Italy and in Italy they have Café Bars on every corner and in every gas station and the coffee here is really good. It’s readily available, it’s non-artisanal and it’s exceptional every time. Like, for example, at the Q8 (gas station and former sponsor of OPQS) in the town of Altamura on the way out of Cosenza they make cappuccinos in less than 20 seconds for less than one euro a piece, and which cappuccinos were, in spite of taking ¼ the time to make and costing ¼ the price, better than any cappuccino I’ve had in 13 years of living in Portland, Oregon. The Q8, like many other places in Italy, also has sparkling water on tap.
  20. A worker taking a break to watch the Giro pass sitting on a stack of lumber 12-feet off the ground on the raised skid of a forklift parked against a wall in manner that allowed him to see over the wall and enjoy the shade of a nearby tree.
  21. In addition to Ciao-Ciaoing (hello, goodbye, I really like you man) there is also Ciao-Ciao-Grazieing (hello, goodbye, thank you, you are welcome, okay sounds good, see you tomorrow, etc)

After the finish in Matera we drove to the town of Conosa di Puglia, the mid-point of Stage 06 and our home for the evening. We checked into Hotel d’Altavilla then walked to the center of town looking for a Ristorante or Osteria or Trattoria or Pizzaria or similar, instead we found Aquearela do Brazil, a Brazilian Themed Restaurant and Discotheque. We were seated inside an empty-except-for-us dining room with vaulted, domed ceilings and white brick walls with no windows. On the 12-foot projector above the 40-foot long, 8-foot high full color photographic mural of a beach in Rio De Janeiro, we watched Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) MTV video from 1987 while discussing which of set multi-course meals sounded best. We decided on the 25 Euro Churrasco Base featuring eight different roasted meats (Maminha, Coxa De Franco, Linguica, etc.) and unlimited access to the antipasta buffet which was mostly rice, rice and beans, rice and sausage and beans, rice and sausage and beans soup, and coleslaw. The DJ stand in the corner (real turntables), like every table in the room, was draped in a yellow and green table cloth and a sign hanging off the front read, "Ordem E Progresso," (Latin for Order and Progress) a slogan inspired by Auguste Comte’s motto of positivism. Every five minutes for the next forty minutes, a large, still steaming, side of skewered meat was brought to our table and sliced for us on the spot, during which procedure we were instructed to move the meat from his plate to our plate using the tongs provided—the procedure on the whole felt ritualistic.

After dinner, at approximately 9:30pm, we walked to the center of town for gelato and one last cappuccino (our 8th for the day). In middle of the square on a large gazebo-like stage, surrounded by hundreds of friends, couples, gangs of kids, groups of adults etc, a Giro-related spin demonstration was underway. Each of the participants/spinners wore a pink tee-shirt, there was loud techno music, everyone was enjoying themselves.

  1. Publisher's Note: It's his own head, he was a minotaur, he was born with it, be nice. []
  2. Philosophy: "The main objective of the Project is the large-scale and countrywide development of cycling in Russia, from youth sports schools to continental and professional Russian teams. Along with that, the Russian Global Cycling Project lays special emphasis on promoting the image of Russia as a powerful sports country, one of the leaders of world sports community." []
  3. Manual #12: BE HAPPY, BE FAST []