Friday, January 30, 2009

Ride L'Etape and Mont Ventoux with Eros Poli

My good friend Eros Poli has hooked up with "La Fuga" (, a luxury cycling tour company, for a one week preparation tour for L'Etape and Mont Ventoux.

L'Etape, or L'Etape du Tour, is a mass start start event like a gran fondo, which allows cyclists to ride one stage of the Tour de France. This year the L'Etape will folllow the route of the penultimate stage of the Tour de France and finish atop Mont Ventoux.

Details of the La Fuga tour "Eros Poli Preparation Week", 18 April — 25 April 2009, are as follows:


Want the inside knowledge on the challenge of Mount Ventoux? Who better than Eros Poli, winner of legendary stage 15 of the 1994 Tour de France stage where the former Olympic team time trial champion went on a 106 mile solo attack holding off Pantani and Virenque to win in Carpentras. Eros is so affectionately linked with the iconic mountain that he is dubbed "Monsieur Ventoux" by French cycling fans.

Eros will spend the week riding with us, passing on his knowledge gained from an eight year professional career and sharing his stories from inside the peloton. Eros will be available to answer all your questions and maybe even let you into a few pro secrets. He will also share his love of food and wine as we visit local restaurants and sample the best of Provencal cuisine and drink.

With this year's l'Etape taking place over the beautiful roads of Provence and finishing at the summit of the iconic Mount Ventoux, it was an easy choice of location for our sportive preparation week. Provence's challenging terrain, beautiful scenery and world famous cuisine make it the perfect location to fine tune your Etape preparations.

Our preparation week gives you everything you need to maximise your performance at your big event. And because it's a La Fuga tour, it won't be all hard work; we'll sample the best of local cuisine and enjoy a glass or two of Cote du Ventoux.

Highlights of the week include:
Evening seminars on nutrition and training
In depth reconnaissance of the Etape course from Montelimar to the summit of Mount Ventoux
On the bike advice on riding technique, bike fit and race day tactics
Group rides tailored to your fitness level with following car support
Full mechanical backup
Complimentary sports drinks, bars and gels.

What's Included?
Four star accommodation (single occupancy double room)
All breakfasts and evening meals at the hotel and restaurants
Airport / station transfer
Experienced guides and dedicated support car on each ride
Complimentary Energy Drink and Bars
Cyclefilm L'Etape du Tour 2009 Reconnaissance DVD
La Fuga Welcome Pack

What's Not?
Flights / train travel
Travel insurance
Alcoholic drinks
Incidental expense

*Etape entry guaranteed for bookings received before 31 January with payment of applicable entry fee

The Knowledge
Accommodation: 7 nights at 4 star hotel (single occupancy double room)
Enjoy: Provencal cuisine and Cote du Ventoux wine
Travel: Fly to Marseille / Eurostar direct from London St Pancras to Avignon (not included)
Price: £1650 (double occupancy £1265)

Photo: Eros suffers on Mont Ventoux on the way to stage victory when it was 37C (98.6F), a view towards the summit, Eros on the slopes of the "Giant of Provence"

Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Thursday, January 29, 2009

100 Days to Start of Giro d'Italia in Venice

Wonderous Venice will host the start of the Giro d'Italia in 100 days. The team presentations will take place two days prior to race start in the famous Piazza San Marco on May 7th. It should be quite a spectacle.

The Giro will then begin on Saturday, May 9th on the Lido, an 11 mile Venetian island separating the Venetian lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. It's the only place in Venice you could possibly have a time 20.5 km team time trial.

Photos: the Lido appearing as a thin line in the horizon with Piazzetta San Marco in the immediate foreground as seen from St. Mark's Campanile; an aerial view in the opposite direction with the Lido in the foreground, Venice in the center with the causeway that connects it to the mainland; course map; Giro brochure showing Piazza San Marco, considered the heart of Venice

Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Granfondo Colnago

Ernesto Colnago's frames are among the most highly regarded in cycling. Owners of a Colnago are passionate cyclists. Combine these with beautiful and challenging routes and you have the reason for the Granfondo Colnago being in the top tier of granfondo events in Italy. If you are reading about a "granfondo" for the first time and need an explanation of what it is see this entry:

Registration for the 5th edition, September 6th, has now opened and the 4,000 slots will fill quickly. Three routes, beginning in Piacenza, are available: granfondo of 156 km with 2,700 meters of climbing, medio fondo of 125 km with 1,700 meters of climbing, and a short course of 70 km with 600 meters of climbing. Finishers in the granfondo and medio fondo are classified according to their times.

Event details (in Italian):

Photos: event logo and photos, route map, profile of the granfondo route
Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Team Selections for Giro del Centenario

The twenty teams that will participate in the 100th Giro d'Italia were announced today in Milano:
3) ASTANA (Kaz)
8) ISD (Ita)
10) LIQUIGAS (Ita)
12) QUICK STEP (Bel)
13) RABOBANK (Ola)

The list includes 14 of the 18 ProTour teams; excluded were Cofidis, Euskaltel, Fran├žaise des Jeux and Fuji Servetto. The organizer has kept two slots open for teams not yet selected.

Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Invitation for Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal

This is my 500th blog entry. I was thinking along the lines of, "What next?" After thinking about it for some time I thought it would be fun and interesting to invite others to submit stories related to, and about, cycling in Italy.

I thought it best to keep the rules simple:

-well written,

-good photographs,

-full credit to writer,

-I decide whether to publish it

Contact info for me:

Help me make the Italian Cycling Journal the place to stop in to read about Italian cycling.
Photo: atop the Stelvio

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Armstrong & the New Velodrome in Montichiari, Brescia

A world class track facility is currently under construction in Montichiari, province of Brescia. It will be a covered facility that will seat 2,000 spectators. The track, of wood construction, will be 250 meters in length. Construction is expected to be completed in Spring in time for the European Junior Championships.

Above is an artist rendering of the cover (note it is shaped like a helmet), a construction photo from mid-December, and a virtual tour in video.

The point of bringing this up is that Francesco Moser, who broke Eddy Merckx's hour world record in 1984, believes that Lance Armstrong may attempt an hour record attempt in Montichiari in the future. Moser's comments add to other recent news reports that the hour record maybe under investigation by Armstrong and his coach, Chris Carmichael.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Armstrong to Race Milan-Sanremo, "La Primavera"

Lance Armstrong has announced that he will make his first appearance, ever, in an Italian race when he enters "La Primavera", Milan-Sanremo, on March 21st. It's the longest race of the season at 294km.

The climbing on the way to the Ligurian coast is not hard. At the end of the course, however, are a series of hills that challenge the riders who have already put in over 200 km. The most famous of these are the Cipressa and Poggio. After these hills they must still preserve enough energy to sprint on the via Roma in Sanremo.

One of the fabulous aspects about cycling in Italy is that you can often ride all, or parts, of the same courses the professionals do. Milan-Sanremo is a case in point. On the following day, March 22nd, you can ride a portion of the course as part of "Milano-Sanremo cicloturistica" event. The 120km course begins in Lungomare Calvino and will include the Cipressa and Poggio climbs. This year they will have a special jersey as well. Information can be requested from

Photos: Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland won in 2008, along the Ligurian coast, the route and profile; cicloturistica route

Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Trivia from the Giro d'Italia, Part II

78-the number of pink jerseys worn by Eddy Merckx, exceeding Binda (59) and Franceso Moser (57).

42-the most stage wins, by Mario Cipollini who broke the record of Alfredo Binda (41 stage wins).

16- the greatest number of completed Giro editions, by Miro Panizza (who entered 18 editions)

Photo: Eddy Merckx

NJ: Finally, Some Warmth

Friday, January 23rd: Today we had a one day warm spell with temperatures rising into the 40s after which they were going to plunge again. I hadn't ridden outside since January 6th, I was desperate to get out riding.

I like to vary my rides so typically I go on new routes and roads on every ride. Today, I found a farm that sells fresh eggs year round. I'll have to try those. Which reminds me that I have to go back to the farm that sells buffalo burgers that we passed on a summer ride and pick some of those up.

Photos: a bright, sunny day, eggs for sale, chickens and lambs, snow covered stream

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Win: A Trip to Verona and an Eddy Merckx Bike

Old readers of my blog know that I lived in Verona, Italy. A beautiful city to visit and live.

BICYCLING magazine is having an essay contest in which the prize is an Eddy Merckx bike and an all expenses trip for two to Verona to enter the Granfondo Eddy Merckx on June 2nd. All you need to do is write 50 perfect words. OMG, I'll be wracking my brains. The granfondo will be of 148 Kms with 1.740 meters of climbing. For those not ready for that a mediofondo of 90 Km with 490 meters of climbing is available.

Photos: GF Eddy Merckx logo, Verona and the Adige River at sunset, photo taken from the bridge near where we lived; I met Eddy Merckx at the Milan bike show in 2007, that was a WOW; an Eddy Merckx EMX frame, made in a partnership with Pinarello

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ciclo Di Cuoio: Leather Handlebar Covering

It's nice to learn of the launch of a small business that is making sewn leather handlebar wrap, in 7 colors in smooth leather and suede, available. Cico Di Cuoio is offering a complete, easy to use, kit. They also offer a service where you can send your handlebars to them and they will do the installation. See for details.

My Verona-made Lucio Malagnini was delivered with leather wrapped handlebars, comfortable and classic.

Photos: suede wrap, white smooth leather wrap on a Brian Baylis track bike, 1990s Malagnini with original leather wrapped handlebars

Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ernesto Colnago Sings.....

.........."O Sole Mio" at a dinner at the 2008 Eurobike show in September. He is pretty good!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Randonneuring and Brevets in Italy

The place to learn of randonneuring events and brevets in Italy is which is the website of Audax Italia.

The site is in Italian but it's easy to navigate. If you have questions you can contact the organization by clicking on CONTATTA and entering on the form your name (nome), email address, and your message (messaggio).

If you would like to register for email announcements, in Italian (only), click on NEWSLETTER and enter:
nome (name)
cognome (surname)
email address
Si (yes) to receive the newsletter
click on INVIA to send

The home page features many of the events and under the BREVETTI button you can find a detailed calendar which is divided by ACP (Audax Club Parisien) and non-ACP events.

Photo: Italian riders on a brevet; as you can see most of the events in 2008 were in northern Italy

Monday, January 12, 2009

Climbing the Famous "Stelvio"

The above photos are of the Passo dello Stelvio climb and were provided by the Sport Hotel Veronello. The Hotel Veronello, near Lake Garda, caters to cyclists and these photographs came from one of the trips they organized for guests.

In the summer of 2006 I climbed the Stelvio with my cycling club, Gruppo 1 of Verona ( The club had a saying that went along the lines of, "If your feet touch the ground you can't claim you climbed the Stelvio." Therefore, on that trip there wasn't going to be any photography by me on the way up but I did take a few photos about half way down on the descent.

I've arranged these excellent photos, which you can click on to enlarge, in the order of what you would see as you climbed the Stelvio. The Passo dello Stelvio at 2757 m (9,045 feet) is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest in the Alps. Of course, it is famous with cyclists as epic battles have been fought here in the Giro d'Italia and as a measure of personal achievement.

The climb begins simply enough on a small road out of Prato. Then, there is a pretty stretch with a cascading river on your right. Soon you come to the first "tornante" (switchback) sign, numbered 47. You climb through a wooded area before coming out into the exposed side of the mountain. On the opposite side is a beautiful glacier. Once you exit the woods and are on the exposed section of road you can see all the switchbacks leading to the top. It's a daunting sight. I decided it was best to keep my eyes on the road immediately ahead. Looking all the way up....well, it just seemed it would be impossible to get to the top. Keep in mind that this is a a climb of 15.1 miles (24,3 km) with an average gradient percentage is 7.4 %.

To all my friends that I tried to come to ride with me: See what you missed?! I could be persuaded to go back though.