World Championships – Women’s Road Race

The morning of the women’s road race was bright and beautiful.  We happen to be parked right across from a sign indicating that we’re on the ‘Strada del Sangiovese e dei Sapori’ – basically the road of excellent red wine and good food!

The women today and the men tomorrow follow the same route, although the men do four more circuits.

The Volvo that was parked next to the road last night was now encircled by red and white tape, and partway thru the morning a race organization car pulled up.  The two men asked everyone if they knew who owned it – there were by now a couple more campervans and cars – but no one knew.

They then phoned the licence plate number in and tracked down the owner, who I think was at the agriturismo upon whose  land we’re all parked.  Eventually someone arrived and moved the car further off the road, which was lucky for them as not long after a couple of large tow trucks passed with vehicles on them that had presumably also been parked too close.

Throughout the morning the usual parade of amateurs rode by, but since it’s a fairly short circuit we got to see most of the men doing recon rides as well for their race the next day.

The women did five circuits of the course, first arriving at 1:34 as a basically intact group with only a few stragglers .

By the third pass there was a breakaway of several riders, including a Canadian.

The peloton was by now quite broken up with many small groups and single riders strung out over several minutes.

On the fourth round there was a sole leader – dutch rider Anna van der Breggen, who won the ITT two days previously.

She managed to stay in front thru the last circuit and was victorious in Imola once again – brava!

World Championships – Men’s ITT

The morning of the men’s ITT was quite blustery but at least the thunder, lightning and rain we experienced during the night had passed.

As we were having our morning cappuccino in the cafe I said ‘I just felt a raindrop’ but there were absolutely no clouds anywhere near us.  It was a very misty kind of rain, and the waitress came out and cranked up all of the large umbrellas – it was very strange, and must have been due to the sometimes fierce wind.

We returned to the campervan and decided to go just out of the town to a roadside spot we’d seen the night we arrived.  We said goodbye to our Belgian neighbours and relocated a couple of km north.

The weather conditions changed every fifteen minutes, blue skies one moment, threatening rain the next.

It never did actually rain, although the wind was pretty constant.

I got decent photos of Brit rider Geraint Thomas…

…Belgian Wout Van Aert…

…Dutch Tom Dumoulin (winner of the ITT in 2017)…

…as well as defending champion for the last two years Aussie Rohan Dennis.

Dennis was unable to repeat again as Italian Filippo Ganna came thru the fastest to the delight of the local fans.

We took down the flags – one of the poles had partially collapsed in the wind – and drove east a bit to pick up the route for the next two days’ road races.  We thought we’d found an ideal spot at the top of one of the two climbs, although it was extremely windy.

We’d just had a lovely dinner and I was finishing the dishes when there was a knock on the window – we were being told to move as we were in a restricted area.  The fellow was nice enough but we had no choice.

We drove a bit further and stopped at a fairly large pullout – there were already a few campervans there, as well as some police having a somewhat heated conversation with a german lady.  We wanted to know what they were discussing when a car pulled up and the man inside told us he had a place we could park.

We turned around and followed him but he turned off the race route and was leading us too far.  We thanked him for the offer and returned back past the other campervans to another likely looking spot that had one campervan well off the road, a Volvo near the road, and a couple of policemen.

We pulled in and asked if we could park there – they said they didn’t know whose land it was but as long as we were at least four meters from the road they wouldn’t make us leave.  The place is on a very fast part of the course – downhill from the summit of the second climb and just past a tricky s-curve so they’re concerned about crashes and don’t want any vehicles too close to the road.

Borgo Tossignano, Women’s ITT

After breakfast we walked to the nearest cafe and had a cappuccino, then took a long walk around the town.

It’s a lovely place right on the Santerno river and has very distinctive geography – the area used to be a provider of gypsum.

As we were walking on a path next to the river a lady on a bike stopped and chatted with us for a bit – she was very friendly and told us about her dog – a staffie named Cesare that she said was very gentle and friendly.

Just a short while later we passed her house and sure enough Cesare ran up to his gate – no barking or fuss, just looked like he wanted a pat on the head or something.

Back at the campervan we put the flags up and waited for the first racer – today was the women’s individual time trial.

Last year’s winner – Chloe Dygert from the US – was setting a blistering pace when not far from the finish she braked on a corner and went into/over the barrier.  She was taken to hospital in Imola for surgery for a bad laceration on her leg, and a dutch rider – Anna van der Breggen – won the day.

Good news is that the American should be ok, and hopefully will recover and be back to form and racing again next year.

Long Rides, and To The World’s

The last 10 days were spent in Papiano – enjoying cappuccinos at the bar, and going for nice long bike rides.

I have a couple of favourite places that I go to and am averaging almost 40 km per ride now.

I love the small shrines that are all over the place, as well as the war memorials that every town and village have.

There was another Saturday night dinner at the bar, complete with live music and dancing – a fun evening with good food and good conversation.

We left for Imola on a Wednesday morning – the world championships were moved there from Switzerland because of covid, so lucky for us we got to go.  There will only be four days of racing instead of the usual eight or nine, but it’s better than nothing.

We chose the town of Borgo Tossignano as our base for the first two days – its about the midway point for both the women’s and the men’s individual time trials.  We found a nice paved parking area right on the route, within walking distance of cafes, etc. so it was perfect.

Only one other campervan was there when we arrived – a nice couple from Belgium who, like most Belgians, spoke very good english.