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Crossing the line first is the primary objective for most riders in a Grand Tour, and comes with the territory that you won’t be having a quiet evening post-stage.
Showering the crowd with champagne on the podium is the fun bit, but then numerous interviews with various television stations and a press conference with the written media bring you crashing back down to Earth. Then there’s the obligatory doping control and probably some other sponsor obligations and duties.
Before long, you’re clamouring for some dinner and a massage, a team car held back while the rest of your squad is probably already at the hotel, resting up after another day’s racing.
Stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia was won by Groupama-FDJ’s Arnaud Démare in a bunch sprint, and while Europeans likely won’t have noticed, it finished an hour earlier than usual – Australian fans were able to get to bed more promptly as American followers may have needed an extra cup of morning coffee.
The explanation for this schedule change was simple – everyone involved in the race needed to catch the ferry to get off of the island of Sicily.
Cars queued up after the finish in Messina, music blaring out of speakers as the Giro was bid farewell and finally would reach the Italian mainland after five days of racing and a rest day.
There was only one problem. The ferry nearly left the day’s stage winner, and ciclamino jersey, behind.
In a photo taken by Bora-Hansgrohe sports director Jens Zemke, Démare can be seen with his bike next to a Groupama-FDJ car hurriedly getting onto the ferry.
The ship had just started to set off, the team told CylingTips, before quickly putting the ferry in reverse gear as it saw the Frenchman approaching, having left him ashore.
“Phew, the ferry waited,” Groupama-FDJ tweeted, their rider able to get to Calabria ahead of stage six from Palmi to Scalea for another expected bunch sprint. The Giro d’Italia has now negotiated a plane journey down from Hungary and a boat trip across from Sicily, the trickiest transfers are likely behind the peloton. All winners with post-stage duties can now breathe a sigh of relief.