Shortly after the fifth TA stage had passed we took off from Gualdo and headed northeast towards Osimo. They cover about 85 km from the south before starting a large circuit where they go through each place three times.
It was starting to get dark as we approached the town of Offagna when we saw our Belgian friend’s bus and another campervan in a field, but when we pulled in the campervan guy came out and told us that the owner was not accepting any more campers.
We continued on to the town and a bit further, pulling into a very large area just off the road where we stopped for the night. It had gone very quickly from dusk to dark and we didn’t want to get too far off the route.
In the morning we went the couple of km back to the town and almost immediately pulled into a nice large area just down from a sharp corner on the route.
Having some time we enjoyed yet another excellent cappuccino at a cafe right across the road, then explored the town a bit.
The town is dominated by a 15th century castle, and there are many interesting and slightly odd artworks around the upper old section.
The coffee shop was doing a good business as people gathered for the race.
Each circuit took about 50 minutes for the racers to cover and each time they passed they were more spread out. The first time they passed the first and last riders were only 3 or 4 minutes apart but on the last circuit they were over 16 minutes.
There was initially a small breakaway followed shortly by the entire Jumbo team keeping Roglic safe at the front of the peloton.
Van der Poel was in the middle, but faded as the race progressed.
Cavendish and Sagan were there too, but several minutes behind.
Once again we watched the end on GCN then, having opted to not go to San Benedetto del Toronto for the final stage we booted it back to Trevi, arriving in the dark but happy to have made it all the way.
The next day was a nice drive back to Papiano, taking the back roads from Foligno again. As it was Sunday, which is ‘visiting your relatives’ day in Italy there was nowhere to park near the house so we made the decision to try to turn around down a small road near the bell tower. This turned out to be a very foolish choice as the road was quite steep and the turning area a bit small. After spinning out trying to back up the hill we parked for a bit, and I walked down and across up a farm road. Around the corner at the top I encountered a very friendly woman, Monica, who was busy pruning her olive trees. She spoke a bit of English, and understood that we were stuck – she said she would call her husband to bring his tractor to pull us back up. The main question she had for us was ‘why???’ – good question!
We went back to wait for the husband when Colin gave it one more try to get out ourselves, and thankfully, after much spinning and smoking of the front right tire, actually made it! I went back to Monica to let her know we were ok, then headed to the house – much relieved, but feeling very stupid.
We did two loads of laundry, and each had a hot shower – very nice after so long roughing it.
On our way out of Papiano we did, of course, stop at the bar to have a quick drink and say goodbye to Antonio – he was very sad, as we likely won’t be back in the area until maybe next year.
The drive to Trasimeno and the aire on the lake didn’t take too long and we settled in for an early night.