Sitting down to write about the Giro Rosa, it’s hard to recall the 10 stages of the Giro as a whole event. Put together, the days melt into a sleep-deprived blur of incredible bike racing, hot bus rides, hotels, and hours of video editing. What I remember best are specific moments of stages, atmosphere, shots, feelings.. below are my favorite moments from each stage.
Pure anticipation and excitement. Stage 1 of my first Giro Rosa with this team. I’ve always had a fascination with the team time trial. The sleek bikes and aero helmets, the whir of disc wheels, the elegance of the team working and turning together, racing against the clock. The team finished a super 4th place, after zero training in the TTT this year.
Each day I arrived in the team bus about an hour ahead of the riders. I had time to shoot some establishing shots of the town, and the staff prepping bikes and bottles. Mostly though it was a lot of waiting around. The photographers and journalists always gravitated together for a few minutes each morning during this time. We would discuss the crap internet at last night’s hotel, who we thought would win the stage, our plans for moving around the course that day. We would then regroup again before the finish line, usually with about 10km to go. I’m sad that I don’t have any photos of this group of people. Sean, Balint, Owen, Bart, Anton, Rose, Freddie and Elliott.. thanks, I loved this camaraderie.
I focused the Stage 3 video around Giorgia Bronzini. She was going after the stage win. She won this stage last year and really wanted the repeat. Racing in an incredible 10th (and possibly her last) Giro, I knew that each moment with Gio was significant. In the end she placed 8th on the stage after a messy final sprint. The disappointment in her voice was clear as she gave me her post-race interview. But as a true champion who knows wins are never easy, she quickly put it behind her. “Tomorrow is another day..”
Back to back sprint stages, this time the team was working for Jolien D’hoore. At the finish line Chloe Hosking from Alé Cipollini threw her hands in the air, but back at the team bus Jolien was sure she had won. There were a few anxious moments as the team tried to understand what the official results were. Several photographers gathered around the bus to show Jolien their finish line photos. I asked her what she thought and she said without hesitation, “I won. We won.” She knew.
By now the Giro Rosa is famous for their complete misrepresentation of the stage profiles. The stage 5 time trial was the ultimate example of this.
My day was spent running back and forth between the team bus and the start house, so I could capture everyone warming up and starting down the ramp. Then finally, I jumped in the team car that would follow Elisa to the top. Some girls wanted to use this stage as an easier rest day, but the 30% wall at the end didn’t let anyone take it easy. Julie described it best as “the hardest rest day of my life. No. Doubt.”
For Elisa and Claudia it was a perfect opportunity to show their climbing skills. Again we were left guessing at the results, as no time checks were given during the race. Down a small cobbled alley, away from the busy crowd at the finish line, Elisa was cooling down on the rollers and searching Twitter for results. A happy 3rd and 8th place for Elisa and Claudia on the day.
For two nights we stayed in the same hotel. This was a luxury after a week of long transfers. It was grounding, relaxing, calming. As Wiggle have a few more staff members than most teams, two of us stayed in a separate b&b just up the road from the team hotel. I was lucky enough to share a room with Emma Johansson, who had come into the Giro midway to help with whatever the team needed. I was thankful to share some quiet moments with her, away from the busy team hotel. We ate breakfast of fresh fruit and cake, on a shady terrace with a view of the sea. She helped keep my sleep-deprived brain on schedule.
We moved deeper into Southern Italy each day. The transfers were again long and the temperatures soared to near 40 degrees Celcius. We were working and racing in desert-like heat. All the day’s efforts were around keeping the girls cool. Finding ice from an open bar or restaurant was the goal of every morning. Sometimes the swannies would ask 4 places before they gave them a small bag of ice.
Average of 10 bottles per rider over 142km today. #GiroRosa
— Coreen Mazzocchi (@mazzok) July 6, 2017
After the stage was finished, the team moved as quickly as possible to get the girls out of the heat and back to the hotel to start their recovery. As soon as enough girls were ready, one team car would drive to the hotel. The second team car would take the remaining girls. The last to leave the race site each day was the bus driver, the DS or mechanic, and me after filming the podium ceremony. One of the things I will remember most about this Giro Rosa, is slowly roasting my brain in the back of the sweltering hot team bus every day.
The Queen Stage. Again I had a lot of anticipation and excitement around this stage. Today the GC battle was full on, with climbing right from the start, and a super technical descent to the finish. I spent the day in the car with Laura the soigneur. In between filming at feed zones, I took up doing live race tweeting. As the race went on, the online audience grew ever more frustrated with the lack of live updates and images from the event, so I attempted to help out as I could. Especially for the Queen Stage!! I hoped for a brief moment that people following Twitter would be able to feel my excitement as we drove down the final switchbacks and the fast run in to the finish line.
Before the Giro was over, I wanted to highlight the Wiggle High5 staff. The staff on a women’s pro cycling team are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. They work tirelessly behind the scenes, often doing the workload of 2-3 people at once. Different from the men’s pro teams where one physio will look after just 3 riders and do nothing else, the women’s team physio does massages, drives the bus, prepares bottles, works at the feed zones etc. Just two team mechanics look after all 7 TT bikes, all 7 race bikes and all 7 spare bikes, and do the laundry each day. The DS looks after race tactics, team and staff logistics, and is an all-around general problem solver. It is no easy task. Everyone on this team is here because they love the sport of women’s cycling.
The final stage of this year’s Giro. The teams were greeted with massive traffic congestion in the Southern Italy seaside town of Torre del Greco. There were safety concerns before the race, and the teams agreed to ride one lap at an easy pace to decide for sure if the course would be safe before they put the hammer down and started racing. After a neutral lap, the race was on.
It was incredibly hard, yet incredibly rewarding to be a part of Wiggle High5 at the Giro Rosa. Sharing in the team’s victories, defeats, laughs and celebrations was a true privilege.
Being a one woman production crew was not easy. Probably my biggest self-criticism is that the videos are fairly short. It was my plan from the beginning to keep them short, in order to survive the 11 straight production days on the tour. It’s amazing how coffee and adrenaline keep you going for exactly as long as you need them to. But unfortunately coffee doesn’t give you more hours in the day.. I have lots of extra footage that I will edit into an extended Giro Rosa video, or include in my next outtakes video.
I have huge massive respect for all the women who raced in this Giro. From the three standing on the podium, to those who finished 2+ hours down on GC, to Claudia Cretti who is still fighting in the hospital in Benevento. Tough hot conditions, long stages, long transfers, and super exciting racing.. It was a joy to be a small part of it, and to bring these stories to you.
Watch all 11 videos from the Giro Rosa on the Wiggle High5 YouTube channel.