After untangling myself from the mass of riders on the start line and making it back to the car, a display of fine Italian driving followed. We edged out of our parking spot and in behind the team cars and in front of the team buses and trucks. We followed the caravan through the neutral area behind a Liquigas team car and decided that they probably knew the best way out of the city, so we sat an uncomfortable (at least it was for me) 2ft from their bumper. The rest of the day followed a pattern. Race along the freeway, cut across country to the race route, wait with the locals for 10 or 15 minutes for the race to pass through, run back to the car, race along the freeway, repeat. Each time we stopped the local clubs in all their shapes, sizes and colors had taken a ride out watch the race go by. It was like watch a parade on the history of cycling clothing.
We did this all the way through to the climb of LeMánie where we eventually stopped long enough for my stomach to settle with the help of one of the best coffees I have ever had. The landscape had transformed from the flat farmlands outside Milan to the lush Caps that take you over to the Med. At this point the race had ignited. The crash had happened. The peleton had split, and favorites were missing from the lead group. The race was on. When they came past us on the climb they were strung out into a series of small groups, there was a lot of pain on show and gaps between wheels. At this point they had about 90km to go, and anyone that wouldn’t get back on before Capo Berta or The Cipressa was not going to figure in the final result. That was some big names, Thor, Cav, Oscar. Thor came past on Van Summeren’s wheel with a mixture of pain and anger all over his face. Van Summeren didn’t look much better.
Back to the car, and we raced down to the base of the Poggio. At this point we were on coarse ahead of the race, and had clear roads all the way over the Poggio into San Remo. This wouldn’t have been the way I would have chosen to go over the Poggio for the first time (in a Mercedes at 80kph) but it was good enough to get us to the finish area and onto the Farnese Vini Neri team bus to watch the finish live on TV.