This story comes via Australia from the Squadra Velluto Nero:
Velluto Nero Rides with Eros Poli
After 4 days in Montalcino and an introduction to Italy through the rolling hills of Tuscany our group of 8 riders from Australia headed northeast to Lago Di Garda. Coming from pancake flat Perth (Western Australia) and even flatter Mildura (Victoria) Monte Amiata was a good stretch of the jet lagged legs after the 24 hour flight. But you can always go higher and harder in Italy. Hence, squadra “Velluto Nero”, have traveled to Europe for the last 2 years to conquer the great cols and passes.
We were based in Riva (del Garda) for middle 4 days of our Giro and were lucky enough to have arranged to meet up with ex-pro Eros Poli. Okay, to be honest if you are like me and had to google search Eros Poli, take the time it is well worth it. Eros and his wife Michelle joined us at our hotel the night before for an aperitif and to talk us through the plan for the next two days.
Day 1 we rode what Eros called the “3 Lakes”. It was a solid 140km in total with about 2100m of climbing. The highlight of the day was the picnic supplied by Eros and his mate Robert, more to the point the esky (cooler box) of ice cold Suisse beer. It was a great day of riding and many of our group returned home saying it was the highlight of the trip. Having the chance to ride shoulder to shoulder with Eros and talk about his 10 year career in the peloton was a real buzz. The majority of the group had tackled Mont Ventoux last year but unlike Eros none of us stood on the podium as a TDF stage winner.
Day 2 was the climb of Monte Baldo. We opted for the longer harder climb, 31km 7-9% max 20%, and all for the day were planning about 90km however somewhere along the way we (the Australians not Eros) may have taken a wrong turn and ended up with 11okm on the clock. A sensational climb and once again a great day out with Eros. I would highly recommend engaging Eros if you are ever going or considering cycling in Italy.
Our time in Riva with Eros was another stepping stone in our preparation for last leg of our Giro in Cortina d'Ampezzo. We did our best to climb as many of the passo’s we could – Campolongo, Falzarego, Giau, Tre Croci, Sella, Pordoi and Valparola but thought we had better leave some for next time.
And then there was Zoncolan......which really is a story in itself. Words can’t describe the climb but the war stories once at the top you share with your mates is what cycling is all about. Go and do it for yourself and you will see.
I must say a sincere thank you to Eros and Robert, and Angelo senza la o (from ICJ).
Ciao and Grazie Mille
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