Stage 5 of the 2015 "Race of the Two Seas" was billed as the big showdown between the "Fabulous Four" until Chris Froome failed to start. But Vincenzo Nibali, the "Shark of the Straights", Alberto "Il Pistolero" Contador and Nairo "The Condor" Quintana were there...and so were we.
As veteran race-watchers, the first order of business is making sure we have adequate food so we stopped by L'Oste del Re in Orvieto for panini porchetta.
We went up to Orvieto to escape the closed roads and helicopter racket from the filming of the next 007 movie atop the Janiculum Hill Sunday morning, starting at 5 AM! Saturday night we enjoyed a nice bottle of wine, prosciutto and cheese at L'Oste, known for their cured meats and local cheeses as much as their wonderful porchetta, which you can see above.
Sunday morning armed with porchetta sandwiches and a bottle of beer, we were ready to head to the race. As you can see above, the weather wasn't really so great for waiting by the roadside (or in the car) enjoying a porchetta sandwich until the race came past. Yes, that is the finish line in the background. It hadn't starting snowing all that much...yet.
So we did what we did the last time we were up here and the weather was bad, when we went to see a stage of the Giro d'Italia. When the going gets tough, the tough go to lunch! So we found a nice, warm place to enjoy some hot soup, sausage, roast potatoes along with some vino rosso, etc. We then hiked up the last kilometer and took up a spot across from the big-screen TV so we could keep up on the action.
To keep warm we had to stamp our feet and venture off to secure some hot drinks, but as the weather grew ever more grim, we knew we might be in for one of those epic "We were there" days that will be talked about for years. There was some rumor about cancelling the stage but the finish was all uphill and the team buses were here for the riders to take shelter as soon as they finished. We're happy the organizers insisted on racing!
As you might imagine, there were not too many fans crazy enough to come out to see a race under these weather conditions so we had little trouble getting up close. Here you see Movistar's "The Condor" with just a few meters to go, taking the stage win and overall lead.
Followed by Bauke Mollema of Trek Factory Racing, who was a bit of a surprise.
Then Tinkof's "Il Pistolero" and some companions.
Astana's Vincenzo "The Shark" Nibali came past a bit later. Seems he's lacking a bit of form at present, but doesn't seem too concerned. When your goal is to be at peak condition in July, it would seem comforting to see your major rivals in such great condition in March. How can they maintain this fitness all the way to July? Questions were asked about Nibali's form last year but he came through when it counted. Will it be the same in 2015?
By the time the team helpers started to arrive, the road was pretty slick. As you can see they rode in the tracks of the cars to avoid spinning their wheels. By this time we were pretty well frozen ourselves so retreated back to the place we had lunch for some warm drinks as we waited for the traffic to settle down. In case you wonder what happened to the porchetta sandwiches.....they were preserved just fine in the car in the cold temperature and tasted oh-so-good as dinner once we got home!!