So here we go again… and although I've never stepped foot in the Dolomites it was not a step into the unknown. Having the Cent Cols team guiding us through another journey meant I was organised, excited and very relaxed. As previous years, 2 of the day's climbs would be timed, the first of these on stage 1 being the 16km San Zeno. With 10 full days in the mountains, gauging that first effort is always going to be difficult and unlike the Alpes and Pyrenees the Dolomite climbs seemed to have no kilometre markings.
Soon after this climb it became clear that this was certainly a Phil Deeker route as we headed almost off road up the mountainside. Fog enveloped us and rain made the descent treacherous. After taking a sharp left I hear the rider behind shout 'big fall', I looked round and saw nothing following me around the bend except a water bottle rolling down the descent, minus it's rider and bike. Shaken, cut and bruised he resisted the temptation to jump in the van and bravely finished the stage, which we all did for the last hour in a torrential down pour. The bathrooms in the hotel that night were instantly trashed as we spent our recovery time trying to dry our kit out. The 2012 cent cols had started in earnest.