Santo Stefano al Mare and….Milano-Sanremo from The Poggio!!

We found out as we left Cavour that we weren’t actually at the Sosta site, but other than the noise no one had bothered us or asked us to move.

F70BDBF1-7A2E-4FE4-9A86-2D640E74B3CCWe again took the paege, making our way south to the coast then west along to Santo Stefano al Mare and to a campground that we’ve stayed at before.  I can’t say how lovely it was to have a nice hot shower, and on top of that – clean laundry!

1634C19F-49FE-4BC6-BB55-E2244986EA8EThere are several resident kittens that quickly became my dear little friends since I just had to feed them – doesn’t make up for how much I miss my own Sly guy back home, but helps a bit.

6C0EC53A-B5EC-4BFC-9359-BEDFFDE280BFI had wi-fi for the first time in a week so tried to catch up on emails, etc, and even posted a blog, but it seems to not have worked.

008862D2-C0CD-405C-AE13-2E0E0A8A09B0After giving the kitties a large breakfast the next morning we were on our way to the Poggio.

F1246B11-EF85-4DE2-8D11-F684E1A0964FWe got a perfect spot in the parking lot above the race course right in a corner overlooking the Sea.  (Note about photo:  this was taken through a chain-link fence, so the blurry lines are part of the fence, but this was our actual view)

55EDE91E-8AF0-4B76-950C-9DD84909CDDB38F7F3C5-66D4-477F-B239-00C2CB18046AWe had a delicious cappuccino at the cafe/bar on the corner, and chatted a bit with one of the older gentlemen we’d met here last year.  He asked if we were german – he worked in Germany for two years and speaks a little german, but we managed to have a short conversation with my italian.

A0532A39-A84A-4D98-A7F9-D4D2CCBF38BDReturning to the bar later in the afternoon we had a drink and enjoyed a small complimentary plate of appies before going back to the campervan for a salmon and rice dinner.

5EF89C63-AE94-4956-AC13-82A1F991B693It had been a fairly hot day, but the almost constant breeze from the sea helped a bit and my solo walk in the evening was very pleasant.

D1858227-9CE7-40F3-ACC1-69471036A9A2Race day came with sunshine and blue skies.  We’re somewhat surprised that there is only one other campervan in the parking area – it’s been recently resurfaced, which is great, and it is pretty full, but cars, not campers.  Last year – end of March, of course – there were dozens of campervans.

61F238F9-0365-4841-85AA-E845981C1F98We had our cappuccino at a different cafe/bar, then took a little walk around the village before visiting the wine shop – the one with the hoses in the wall – then the other cafe.

DF21207F-23CB-4BFA-864E-08B8AD9F4240There are some other fans here, but nothing like last year, and we’re all pretty good about the face masks and/or distancing, etc.  To compare I’ve included a photo from last year taken at a similar time race-wise to this year:

As we were testing our camera angles one of the race cops came down to speak with us about Colin using the flash on his camera.  We tried to explain that it really wouldn’t bother the riders, but he went away and down came a cop that spoke rather good english.

4017018E-9896-445D-B724-16162FDE616DHe was very polite and apologetic, but we weren’t allowed to use flashes.  Colin re-located further down and around the corner, but I stayed where I was, just around and down a bit from the crest of the Poggio.

A06E913E-3E6B-46CD-BC94-ED733EE0551FThe tv heli appeared about five minutes before the first racer – Alaphilippe! – followed closely by Wout van Aert (winner of Strade Bianche).

1A7F35B7-3A39-46C4-B397-1016ECEEAC0750867110-C698-453A-BC45-161A21AB4D10There were only a few seconds before more and more riders passed – and I finally got a shot of Nibali.

82B67A62-9CA3-4F6D-A3E0-EB399E44B8A8I also got decent shots of Michael Matthews – who had a torn shoulder – as well as Belgian champion Naesen.

E9775952-D012-454B-8A62-FE8C72165291B38ED702-D032-4034-B9BD-629C1A1591B4After many of the racers had passed I got ready to sneak across the road to watch the end of the race on tv in the bar – just then Colin came up the hill to do the same thing.  The Poggio is just 4 km from the finish, and it’s all hairpin turns downhill then a bit of flat road to the end in Sanremo.

We got into the bar and cheered loudly along with the other fans – again I noticed the difference from last year when we squished in like sardines, while this year we had elbow room to spare.

The finale was thrilling – a sprint between Alaphilippe and van Aert, with van Aert taking it on the line.  Michael Matthews – with the torn shoulder – came in third.

We ended up waiting quite a while before we were allowed to disperse – one rider, who must have had a mechanical or a fall – had yet to go by.  He got rousing applause and cheers as he passed, then the barriers started to come down.

CE76D7D9-2308-4EE4-8ECE-92C378960264Another wonderful race day!

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