Fans may see the final day of a Grand Tour such as the Giro d'Italia as little more than a pro-quality club run as riders roll toward the finish line with the racing over aside from the sprinters' final dash for glory. But for the directeur sportif of the leaders' team, it's a bit more stressed than that.
For starters, there's the constant worry that a last-minute disaster could wipe out three weeks' work. "We knew it wasn't over until we finished up today and hit the line with one lap to go, as that was where the official time was taken," said Discovery Channel directeur sportif Sean Yates in a team statement. "And with one to go, we had Michael Barry at the head with Paolo on his wheel, as we knew one crash or something like that could potentially lose it all. After that, everyone sat up and that was it."
But first, Yates had to get to Milan, and on the way fulfil an important role of the leader's directeur sportif: handing out champagne to every team on the race. "We had two bottles for every team and with two cars in the race, we had 50 bottles in our car," he said. "Then we hit a curb and got a flat tire."
Yates fixed the flat, then followed local police to get back to the race. But a wrong turn put him in front of the peloton, and he had to pull over and wait for the race to pass. "Good to have that happen on the last stage and not in the mountains," he said.