A Giro d’Italia day, as seen from the support van

Michiel Van Ooteghem

Michiel Van Ooteghem

Jun / 14 / 2024

It’s no secret that most of us guides prefer to be on the bike rather than in the support van, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also have a big passion for it. I love being there for the riders, handing out bananas (and Nutella biscuits!) and trying my best to get some good shots in.

I’d like to tell you about a very memorable day in the Dolomites from the Giro week 3 Explorer tour, where I was joined by Claire, a non-rider participant, who is absolutely adorable and brings an endless supply of motivation and positive energy to the van. When the ride starts, we do some quick shopping and then await the group first time. We cheer loudly and I play around with the camera, getting some purposely blurry pictures in, using slow shutter speeds. I’m lucky to be using Tomek’s camera today.

Our next stop is a bike shop since one of the riders had a mechanical problem, but luckily we can fit the spare bike to her measurements and everyone is soon rolling again. Shortly after, our brave cyclists tackle the first big climb of the day and they’re doing amazing! All under Claire’s enthusiastic cheering of course. It’s a long climb and one of the riders feels his energy draining and asks to hitch a ride in the van to the top. I climb on top of the van to stow his bike away, put some snacks in his hands and shortly after, give him a little nudge to try the last breathtaking 500m of the Passo Rolle. He climbs up courageously and I get some epic shots of our group of riders. I’m a satisfied photographer and the day isn’t half done yet.

After a snack at the top, the riders, followed by us, enjoy an almost endless and gorgeous descent down to Fiera di Primiero. We order a quick lunch and then it’s onward to the second climb of the day. Everyone is feeling fit, motivated by guide Marco and a little while later, I’m cheering for them near the top and snap a picture from the faster and slower riders alike.

After more than 70km and a big chunk of elevation, some riders decide to call it a day and drive with us to the finish line in the van. I get help from strong Fàtjon, who drives our second support van, to put all the bikes on top and we start driving to catch the faster riders, with guide Tomek. While the guests enjoy their delicious panini in the van, the first drops of rain hit the windscreen and they’re not regretting their decision in the slightest.

The faster group however is a bit further down the road and determined to keep riding. They’re making good time towards the top of the Passo Brocon as they battle the rain. We offer them extra clothing and they make it just in time to the top of the climb for our special Finish Line Experience! Everyone crosses the line under loud cheers from all their fans and we got some glamorous pictures on the official podium.

We then join the caravan and drive to our next hotel. I look in my rear view mirror and see a van full of tired, but smiling faces.

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