Ischia is the third most populous island behind Sicily and Sardinia with 62, 000 inhabitants and for one day in May, the cycling world turned its attention to this gorgeous little piece of the earth.
The weather was beautiful, the sun was out and the teams were tested by what was a deceptively tricky little 17.4km time trial route around the island.
It really has become impossible this year to not comment on the rider’s helmets and Colombia, the first team off the rank, did not let us down with their choice of aerodynamic head wear.
A quick glance at the TV and for a minute there, I thought I had tuned into the wrong channel. Had Eurosport put Spaceballs on as a filler? Was Dark Helmet about to jump in the middle of the course and demand that his Schwartz was bigger than the whole Colombia team’s put together?
Thankfully, Sky were not the team off directly after the Colombians and, thus, their black riding kit wasn’t mistaken for 9 Dark Helmets on bikes. It would be unimaginable to have Sir Wiggo out there proclaiming the size of his Schwartz, I mean sideburns, are equitable to any mere underlings.
The menacing black jerseys, though, carved up the course, dropping four riders before flying home to take a 28 second lead from Blanco. These are men on a mission to see their leader the first Briton to win the Giro.
The island of Ischia has been the home to American literati, such as John Steinbeck and Truman Capote. It’s hard to see how this beautiful island could have been home to Steinbeck, the chronicler of rural America during the depression. The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden and Of Mice and Men aren’t really imbued with the romance of a Mediterranean island, but then again, this time trial isn’t imbued with that romance either.
Most teams struggled to finish with all nine riders. In fact, many struggled to finish with the minimum five, just ask Euskaltel-Euskadi. Watching the Basque team trying to slow down for their fifth man, you couldn’t help but get the feeling that they wanted to take a gun, call the last guy Lenny and go for a little walk.
Like Steinbeck’s writing, this time trial is a little closer to plumbing the depths of the human condition rather than a spot for a sunny summer vacation.
It would seem that Italy is not proving to be a happy hunting ground for Orica-Green Edge. After yesterday’s disappointment, the team which many thought would challenge for a podium in this time trial, finished ninth.
The day was even worse for Cadel Evans’s BMC finishing well down on his rivals.
But the day belonged to Sky.
Perhaps I’ve been wrong in suggesting the boys from Briton are Dark Helmets. On this gorgeous sunny island, perhaps Truman Capote envisioned his Holly Golightly. The svelte, black kit of Sky may be a little more Audrey Hepburn, than maniacal space empire builder.
Published May 6th, 2013