Great time at the Giro

Earlier in the year Garmin and Wiggle ran a competition to win a trip to watch the final stage of the Giro d’Italia as a guest of Team Garmin Slipstream. David Rogers was that lucky winner and has kindly sent in a blog of his experience at the Giro d’Italia.  

Here’s what he wrote.   

It’s hard work living in England and following professional cycling. The likelihood of a grand tour passing by your front door is minimal so you’re left with just the TV option, not brilliant given the erratic scheduling of a well know satellite station. That said, for me it the ultimate viewers sport so for years I have suffered the constraints to watch as much as possible. So you can imagine my elation and surprise when Wiggle sent me an email informing me that, having bought a Garmin 605, I had won a competition to watch the final stage the Giro as a guest of Team Garmin Slipstream. Well, I say surprise, but actually it was disbelief and shock. Gradually though as details of the itinerary came through I started to believe and it wasn’t long before my wife and I found ourselves in Gatwick airport looking for Paul the Garmin representative.

We were met at Rome airport and driven in a team car to the hotel where it happened that not only Garmin but also Liquigas, Barlow World and Silence Lotto were also staying. We invented a new game in the lobby – I Spy the professional cyclist, Ivan Basso having dinner with a collection of retired pro’s, Dave Zabriskie being interviewed by Cycling News, Pellizotti strutting up and down and what’s that? Team Barloworld waltzing in after midnight – shouldn’t they be resting?

The next morning equipped with our access all areas Giro pass it was off to the time trial. We were driven as part the Team Garmin convoy to the middle of Rome and who did we spot first? Cipollini, as ever surrounded by a crowd of adoring Italians. We parked up and spend a couple of hours walking the course, spotting cyclists and a spot of lunch. Then it was time for the main event, sitting the in the team car following Bradley Wiggins.

David Rogers Garmin Comp Winner

I will happily admit that I pinched myself when we sat parked at the start line waiting for Bradley. Driving was Matt White DS of the team (and an ex pro) and in the back the team mechanic, my wife and several thousands pounds worth of wind cheating carbon wheel. To our left we could see the heavy grey clouds looming over Rome and we wondered if Bradley would get round in time to avoid rain soaked and perilous cobbles. Five beeps and we were off, Matt accelerated hard to catch up with Bradley who had already made considerable ground. It was amazing to see such an athletic performance from such a unique viewpoint. Bikes are quicker round corners than cars so as we sped round the tight circuit it was somewhat akin to being a passenger in a rally car. Amazingly the organisers had not cordoned off the course, so as we gunned round Rome at speeds in excess of 70kph both rider and driver ran perilously close to the oblivious spectators, some choice words from the DS to describe his displeasure! About half way round we could hear from the race radio that Bradley was fastest through the checks but we could also see the first signs of a drizzle on the windscreen.

On Route Rome quickly darkened and the cobbles turned slick and precarious with heavier rain. Bradley visibly slowed down. We were torn between willing him on and knowing he had to take it slowly through the tight corners given the ease at which TT bikes can loose all grip in a millisecond. His caution was justified as we rounded the final corner as he had to avoid a rider who had fallen. We turned off a slip road and were greeted by the sad news from race radio that Bradley had been off the pace by one second. Such a shame, he was the quickest rider on the day but rain and the crash ahead had cost him another top spot in his Palmares.

Anyway it’s pretty had to remain downhearted when you are VIP guests of Team Garmin so we spent the rest of the afternoon watching the GC contenders finish their Giro. After a heart stopping moment as Menchov inexplicably fell (shame on you, the De Luca fans that cheered!) the Rabobank rider still crossed the line with the pink jersey for keeps.

The night was still young so we headed for dinner with Team Garmin, including Bradley but also Dave Zabriske and their wives. It was a great way to hear all the about the inner workings of a pro-cycling team, but don’t worry Garmin, what goes on tour stays on tour!

We had an absolutely fantastic weekend and were overwhelmed by how welcoming all the members of Garmin were. Many thanks to Paul for hosting so well and Louise too. I hear there’s another competition on offer, this time in a team car following the tour up Mount Ventoux – might be worth buying another Garmin I think!