Giro d’Italia: Stage 7 – Castrovillari to Alberobello (224km)
It was a stage that recreated an early summer motorway trip to see relatives as kids, hot and humid, stuck in the back of the car with no air conditioning. Tinfoil sandwiches for lunch, and no end in sight. This was a commuter stage.
Whoever came up with the route from Stage 7 was obviously obvious to the subtleties of bike racing. Tasked with getting riders from Castrovillari to Alberobello he picked up the map, found a ruler, and simply drew a straight line between the two. By weird coincidence, transport planners had done exactly the same decades earlier, building the perfect 100km straight road.
Riders’ minds must drift off on roads such as this.
Breakaway riders Dmitry Kozonchuk and Giuseppe Fonzi could rightfully claim credit for grabbing boredom by the throat and sticking it out for the day. Simone Ponzi of CCC had joined them earlier, but on seeing what lay ahead, dropped back again to where he knew his mental health would be better protected.
Viewers had a difficult job on their hands. More than once I found myself watching traffic on the other side of the road, for something more interesting.
I know I drifted off once or twice, bringing myself sharply back to life having dreamt about visiting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with strong hair, to spread the word to Israel of the coming cooking revolution.
Each time aerial shots brought me back to life, showing just how long and straight this road was, like a council-made promotional video from 1959 for the newly built M1 motorway.
Finally the riders reached a turn, leaving the motorway, only for the first corner to catch some rider out. So unaccustomed to anything but a straight line, this right-hander felt so unnatural that some simply rode on. We can only assume they were able to make the U-turn and rejoin the peloton.