Postcard from Sardinia: Part II

There was little of note on our journey From Alghero to Olbia aside from the landscape, which became more rugged the further east we drove. We arrived at our hotel in Olbia, close by the airport, just in time for lunch. My beloved was delighted to discover the hotel had a pool and gym where, post-race he was able to give his leg a work out. He’s walking further each day without crutches but is not quite confident enough to surrender them completely. 

The finish in Olbia was unexpected. A young Austrian sprinter, Lukas Poestlburger (Bora-hansgrohe), who typically leads out his team’s main sprinter, took a successful flyer off the front. It was game over and he picked up three of the jerseys including that of race leader, the maglia rosa. Another team-mate who was in the day’s break had taken the remaining jersey, getting their team’s Giro off to a wholly delightful yet unexpected start. One of the reasons I love cycling, it’s so unpredictable.

After an evening working, which may or may not have involved an alcoholic beverage or two, we slept soundly and rose to head back into town for the start of stage two. This gave me an opportunity to have a quick look around. The town was full of beautiful floral displays from, I assume, local growers though we’d seen no evidence of them driving over. The town’s proximity to the Costa Smeralda was reflected in its upmarket shops and restaurants, plus the large contingent of Russians and Germans milling round town. 

All too soon the peloton had departed and we followed in its wake, further south to Tortoli. A detour off the motorway due to an accident meant we drove up and over the much more undulating terrain, which afforded great views down to the coast and gave us an idea of what the peloton could expect on today’s stage. 

This stage had a more familiar face winning the bunch sprint, Andre Greipel, a rider who’s won a stage (12) in every grand tour in which he’s participated, and who also assumed the race leader’s jersey. 

We easily found our hotel overlooking the sea. A wedding party was in full swing. The couple were obviously big MotoGP fans as the theme was VR46’s (Valentino Rossi) yellow and blue with all the tables named after GP races. They weren’t the only guests, Movistar were also staying at the hotel with Trek-Segafredo billeted next door. 

We opted for dinner in the hotel next door because, in addition to its main menu, it had a vegan one, not necessarily what you’d expect in a very small seaside hotel. I was delighted and we ate here for the next two days. Our evening was spent sitting in our patio garden watching the comings and goings of the team. 

After the following day’s stage from Tortoli finished in Cagliari, the riders would fly to Sicily. Pretty much everyone else had to take a 12 hour ferry. Given the sheer volume of traffic, including the caravan and press pack, the vehicles departed in waves, some the night before to get everything set up for the riders the following day which of necessity would be a “rest” day. 

After waving the riders off from Tortoli, promising cakes on my return on mainland Italy, we spent two days luxuriating in the serenity of our chosen hotel, watching the wind-affected sprint into Cagliari dominated by echelon masters Quick-Step. Another stage victor who also took the leader’s jersey, sprint sensation Fernando Gaviria, the youngest Colombian to win a grand tour stage. Most of the Colombians are mountain goats. Not so Gaviria, an Olympic track star turned roadster. 

All too soon our Sardinian idyll was at an end but we’ll definitely return with the bikes, the best way to see the island. We drove to the airport in Cagliari for our flight to Malpensa and the drive home. I’ll be following the Giro on the television for the next week or so before watching two stages near Novi Ligure at the end of the second week.

 

 

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