Team support cars in the Giro d'Italia can't always be at the right place when they're needed. Vittoria's Servizio Corse neutral support program fills in the gaps with spare wheels and bikes, water and sometimes even just a little encouragement. We had the privilege of being a passenger in Vittoria car #2 for Stage 20's epic journey from Caldes to Passo dello Stelvio for a firsthand look at what goes on behind the scenes.
Vittoria fielded four vehicles on this day, including three cars and one motorcycle. Our car was assigned to the rear of the peloton, a role that would normally see heaps of wheel changes but the generally high-quality roads presented few challenges in terms of equipment. As it turns out, our car didn't service a single bike during Stage 20 and we mostly just dutifully followed along, ready to serve as needed from handing out bottles of water to providing the occasional helping hand to riders just struggling to survive the day.
It's a unique perspective at the back of the peloton, and one that isn't often shown to the public, with riders falling off the pace, various teams servicing their own riders, and the sad sight of several riders abandoning the Giro so close to the final day in Milan. There was also plenty of spirited driving as we rocketed down mountain passes trying in vain to keep up with racers along with surgically precise maneuvering on the way up along treacherously narrow roads littered with ravenous fans of struggling riders.
Riding in the caravan is an eye-opening experience that every cycling fan should get to enjoy at some point in their lifetime. Watching the race on television or on the side of the road is one thing, but sitting there inside all the action is another thing entirely.
Oh, and one word of advice: Never, ever buy a used team car.