It's fair to say we started quite late, over half an hour to be honest, maybe even the full 60 minutes, thanks to some professional fafflage, but we could catch the group ride we should have been on, easy. Our steady pace would soon overhaul their migrating-herd big-group progress with their polite stopping and waiting-at-the-top. We'd have them within the hour.
But a combination of an, er, creative route choice, being constantly stuttered by the sketchiness of our map (insert praise of the OS here), the lottery of Italian road signs and a complete lack of local knowledge meant this never happened. We didn't even catch them up at the scheduled coffee-stop.
But we did finally catch them at lunch. Just in time to meet them leaving. To. The. Second.
If we had planned it, it would have been funny.
The afternoon was a futile battle between time and the long way home. Which darkness predictably won and we had to ring the hotel to come pick us up in the van less than 10km from home.
But for all that we failed to catch we managed to snatch some salvage from the day.
A few climbs to make a thigh smile, more than enough corners to make a tyre squeal with delight, a landscape to make a heart sigh, a certain light to make an artist cry, and a richness of Italian hospitality to make an Englishman cringe with embarrassment.
Sometimes what you can't catch might actually have been worth dropping anyway.