Gazzetta Challenge - Giro di Lombardia, Como, October 2008
"We have two routes for tomorrow. The long one will leave about 9.30 with the short one leaving a couple of hours later. The idea is to meet up in Bellagio for lunch and then all see the race in the Ghisallo, before dropping back into Como for dinner."
Everyone plumped for the long route.
Next morning, as we weaved our way through Como’s already jammed traffic, the sun was trying to burn the cloud away.
Once we were clear of Cernobbio, the traffic subsided and we could enjoy the sight of the sun sparkling on the lake, as we headed towards Argegno on the western coast of the lake. Along the way we passed through Laglio, home to George Clooney – no time to drop in on him though as we are trying to get ahead of the Giro di Lombardia before it crests the first climb of the day at San Fedele D’Intelvi.
At Argegno, the lakeside road winds left and right before a road sign announcing San Fedele directs us up the steep ramp off to the left.
After the 20 gentle kilometres along the lake the gradient is an abrupt change. However it eases off after the first couple of km and we can settle into a rhythm. As we near the top of the climb the road starts to narrow and switch back and forth. Finally we emerge into the town square in time to grab a coffee prior to the Professionals’ arrival.
The race passes all too quickly. A flurry of activity, horns and sirens blaring and in a flash the peleton zips through the square. After only 56km no one is mad enough to have tried to put in an attack.
Two minutes later they are gone and we have a rendezvous with a ferry in Cadenabbia, and due to the late start of the race we have a race of our own to catch the next ferry to Bellagio.
Thankfully the wind is at our backs when we reach the foot of the descent and turn north along the lake, and set off for the noon ferry that will take us to the foot of the Ghisallo and lunch.
Once refuelled, we headed out to our appointment with the Madonna del Ghisallo. As the pros had picked up their pace, we didn’t have too much time to claim a spot on the climb to watch from. Halfway up we pulled over into a small lay-by to watch the action.
A few short minutes later the caravan of Carabinieri and officials started to hove into sight. Tucked in their wake was the first small group of riders, trying to escape into Como. But with no team cars attending to them it was obvious that this move was doomed. Seconds later the main group streamed past in pursuit with all the favourites looking confident and composed. Cunego was third man.
The race gone we continued on up the climb at our pace, marvelling at the ease with which even the backmarkers had passed a few moments earlier.
Finally we crested the climb by the famous chapel and started our descent back towards Como and a well deserved dinner.
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