Monday, March 30, 2015

Auction "Bicycles from the Embacher Collection" on 19th May 2015

Bianchi C4 1988 Project


Auction "Bicycles from the Embacher Collection" on 19th May 2015 at Dorotheum

"The Embacher Collection" is unparalleled anywhere in the world and has previously been exhibited at Portland (Oregon/USA), Tel Aviv and in Vienna. It also attracted attention through a special iPad app „Cyclepedia – Iconic Bicycle Designs“ and the books „Smart Move“ and „Cyclepedia“ (2011), self-published or published by Thames & Hudson. Among the prominent fans of Michael Embacher’s collection are fashion designer Sir Paul Smith as well as industrial designers Sir James Dyson, Richard Sapper, and Valentino Campagnolo.

From the Funiculo bicycle, constructed in 1937 by Jacques Schulz, to the Italian ‘Skoot’ suitcase bicycle, the German Köthke tandem of 1948, or Alex Moulton’s titanium collapsible bike ONE OFF of 1991: The range of the Embacher Collection extends from 1930s bicycles to modern day examples. All of them are ready to be used. Initial bids range from 100 to 7,000 Euro.

The passionate collector selected individual bicycles that stood out for their exceptional or special design. His collection, in Michael Embacher’s words, may have originated in an attempt: “to use a particular object to demonstrate: What is design? How far can it be reduced? And how many variations does it nevertheless generate?”

Arranged in eleven colours, the fanned catalogue reflects the auctions extraordinary quality. The bicycles are arranged as a fan of colours, reflecting the storage system the collector himself used to store his collection in an attic.


Article from DOROTHEUM myART MAGAZINE No. 5 "Passion in the attic": pdf here

Auction Date
Tuesday 19 May 2015, 5 pm
Viewing from
9 May 2015
Palais Dorotheum, Vienna 1, Dorotheergasse 17
Online-Catalogue from End of April

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Eros Poli - Monsieur Ventoux Joins inGamba

My friend Eros has joined inGamba, a cycling vacation company specializing in European trips. If you are interested in riding with Monsieur Ventoux you can see the rides he is leading in the calendar. Following is the announcement from inGamba:

Monsieur Ventoux, A Legend Joins inGamba

He was never supposed to win. Especially not on the Tour de France's most venerated mountain. Sure, he was prized as Mario Cipollini's sprint lead-out man, but as a climber? Forget it. He weighed more without a bike than most of his competitors did with one, and towered above them all at 1.94 metres tall. He'd had a stellar amateur career, but turned pro late, aged 28. He was an excellent domestique, but not a doyen. No, Mont Ventoux wasn't meant for him.

And yet, Eros Poli took it anyway. The Giant of Provence was conquered by a giant from Verona with a breakaway so audacious that his rivals ignored it. They thought it was the very definition of folly. It was, in fact, the definition of panache.

It was the kind of romantic win befitting a guy called Eros. Cipo, the greatest sprinter of his generation and Poli's team leader, had crashed out of the Vuelta and missed the Tour. Mercatone Uno were without a leader for La Grande Boucle, and so the the workers were let off the chain. It was a rare opportunity to impress at the season's biggest event, and one that Poli took by the scruff of the neck.

Attacking solo some 100km before Ventoux, the Veronese knew that he'd need a huge lead to stay ahead of the pack once the flat stage turned nasty and the road started heading skyward. He did the math. Accepted he'd need at least 24 minutes at the foot of the mountain – a minute for every kilometre climbed with an extra cushion, just in case. And then he went to work.

When the early ramps of the ascent arrived, he was leading by more than 25 minutes. His opponents didn't know it yet, but they'd already sealed their fates. The peloton's big guns fired, but Poli was out of range, flying in spite of his bulk and his loneliness out in front. Not even an attack from a young Marco Pantani could bring him back. He crossed the summit four minutes ahead of il Pirata. Forty kilometres to the finish, but now he had gravity and adrenaline and a lifetime of ambition on his side. The stage, and a unique place in the history books, were his.

Miguel Indurain would go on to win the fourth of his five yellow jerseys that summer, but the undisputed star of the 81st Tour de France was Poli, thanks to one of cycling's greatest ever solo attacks. He did more that day than just win a stage that day in Carpentras; he won the hearts of cycling fans the world over. Because even if he was one of the tallest guys in the peloton, his was a victory for the little guy, and proof that, once in a while at least, spirit and guts could triumph over stacked odds and overwhelming adversity.

The following morning, La Gazzetta dello Sport called Poli's win a national triumph for Italy. The director of the Tour, Jean Marie Leblanc, would later call him a hero. Two decades on, the French still lovingly call him Monsieur Ventoux. We're just happy to call him a friend.

Content for the Italian Cycling Journal is now based upon contributions from readers. Please contribute. Stories about rides, granfondos, touring, having a good time cycling in Italy, Italian cycling history, racing, etc. are always welcome. Contact me at

Friday, March 20, 2015

Francesco Moser Enters Giro d'Italia Hall of Fame

In a ceremony at Milan's Upcycle Bike Café this afternoon, Francesco Moser was inducted into the Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame. One of Italy's greatest professional cyclists, Moser sealed his victory in the 1984 Giro d'Italia in dramatic circumstances: on the last day of the race, in the magical setting of Verona's extraordinary Roman amphitheatre, the Arena, he sped across the finish line at the end of a 42km individual time trial to win the stage and take the final Maglia Rosa from his closest rival, Laurent Fignon.

Born at Palù di Giovo, near the city of Trento, on 19 June 1951, Moser turned professional in 1973. His 273 victories on the road (quite apart from his brilliant track career) make him the Italian rider with the greatest number of wins, and place him third in the world rankings behind Eddy Merckx and Rik Van Looy).

In celebration of his magnificent career, Moser was presented with the beautiful Infinite Trophy, reserved for winners of the Giro d’Italia. After the ceremony, he said:

Trophy: "To receive this beautiful trophy is special because I have a history with trophies: the famous cobblestone trophy at Paris-Roubaix was my idea, and I was the first winner ever to receive one. This trophy is unique too because the design means that they can inscribe the names of all of the winners in it. It’s nice to see your own name among all the previous winners, and all those who came afterwards. It’s going to be a big trophy a thousand year’s from now!"

Memories of the last stage of the ’84 Giro d’Italia: "I knew I had a big chance: in the time trials at Lucca and at Milan, I had gained more than three secs per kilometre on Fignon. And I had a special bike, similar to the won I had used to set the world hour record. That morning, when I went to reconnoitre the course, I didn’t know whether to use lenticular wheels or not. My team-mate Palmiro Masciarelli advised me to use them, and I did. The crowds that day were huge. I could hear them during the race. The news from the team car were good and, when I finished, I knew I had an advantage. I had to make up 1 minute 21 seconds on Fignon. I ended up beating him by more than two and a half minutes. The applause from the crowd inside the Arena was unforgettable."

Milano Sanremo: "It’s a race with an enormous importance for the public, but also for the riders. It can work many ways: if the peloton falls asleep, it can be even be won from a long distance breakaway. When the finish was on the Lungomare Calvino, it was easy to lose position on all those semi-curves, so it favoured the true sprinters. On Via Roma, the race is more open because the road is long and straight. My favourite for Sunday is [Alexander] Kristoff: you have to be fast, but you have to get over the Poggio first. Then again, whenever there has been bad weather, the results have worked against the favourites. And there is talk of bad weather…"

Content for the Italian Cycling Journal is now based upon contributions from readers. Please contribute. Stories about rides, granfondos, touring, having a good time cycling in Italy, Italian cycling history, racing, etc. are always welcome. Contact me at

2015 Maratona dles Dolomites: Last Charity Registrations

The last charity registrations, and last chance to obtain an entry, for the 2015 Maratona dles Dolomites will become available on March 25th. You can purchase these charity entries exclusively online, payment by credit card, on on March 25th 2015, starting from 6 p.m. (GMT+1).

A customized  Maratona helmet made by Kask will be available "next Spring":

Content for the Italian Cycling Journal is now based upon contributions from readers. Please contribute. Stories about rides, granfondos, touring, having a good time cycling in Italy, Italian cycling history, racing, etc. are always welcome. Contact me at    

Results: 50th Tirreno Adriatico

Colombia's Nairo Quintana won the 2015 Tirreno Adriatico.

The Swiss time trial champion Fabian Cancellara took the final stage, a 10km Individual Time Trial.

1 Nairo QUINTANA (MOVISTAR TEAM) in 25h11'16"
3 Rigoberto URAN (ETIXX - QUICK-STEP) at 0'31”

Quintana’s successful campaign included a dramatic stage win in the driving snow at Terminillo, and victory in the White Jersey jersey competition for Young Riders born on or after 1 January 1990.

The Slovakian champion Peter Sagan (TINKOFF SAXO) added victory in the Red Jersey competition to his stage win at Porto Sant’Elpidio yesterday afternoon, while Carlos Quintero (COLOMBIA) is this year’s Green Jersey winner.

BLUE JERSEY – BANCA MEDIOLANUM (General Classification) – Nairo Quintana (MOVISTAR TEAM)
RED JERSEY – ACQUA FIUGGI (Points Classification) – Peter Sagan (TINKOFF SAXO)
WHITE JERSEY – SELLE ITALIA (Young Rider Classification) – Nairo Quintana (MOVISTAR TEAM)
GREEN JERSEY – SPRANDI (Mountain Classification) – Carlos Quintero (COLOMBIA)


Nairo Quintana (MOVISTAR TEAM)
Winning: “I needed this win for my own head, but also to show my fans that I am still here. Last year I won the Vuelta a Burgos, but then in the Vuelta a España I couldn’t give my fans the satisfaction of the win because of that disastrous fall. To finish on the podium in Argentina was reassuring, although it’s a very different type of race and lacks the big rivals who go to the WorldTour races. It was fantastic to come here, to find my team in great form and ready to work hard, and to come away with victory: it is emotional, and good for the head.”

Terminillo: “When I remember that day, the hair stands up on the back of my neck. It was a spectacular win in enchanting surroundings. I’d have to do my homework to compile a ranking of my favorite mountain stage wins, but to beat those rivals, on a day like that, in the cold, with a nervous, twitchy peloton, and then to finish on the Terminillo in the snow, in conditions that made for wonderful photographs, was special, even if I have to say that we suffered a lot that day.

Rivals: “I don’t know what [Contador] is thinking after my win here. But I think all of the big climbing rivals are at a very similar level. Froome wasn’t here, so we didn’t see what shape he is in. But he and Contador showed how strong they are in Andalucia. It was a magnificent spectacle, one of them winning on one day, the next winning the next. Now I have won here. To me, it suggest that we are all pretty even. Contador will be strong at the Tour de France, but so will Froome and Nibali. And for all of us, it’s our main goal.”

Content for the Italian Cycling Journal is now based upon contributions from readers. Please contribute. Stories about rides, granfondos, touring, having a good time cycling in Italy, Italian cycling history, racing, etc. are always welcome. Contact me at    

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia, May 17th

The Giro d'Italia and Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia, are just one week apart, May 17 Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia and the May 24 Corsa Rosa Queen Stage, from Pinzolo to Aprica. This will allow gran fondo (sportive) riders to compare climbing times with the professionals.

The legendary Passo del Mortirolo climb will be timed on both the Giro d’Italia and the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia, and the climbing times are to be published on the events websites and

The timing of the Passo del Mortirolo starts at the ‘climb start’ signpost and runs until the 1,854m summit where the King of the Mountain sign will be positioned.

The comparison may be an extremely tough challenge, but the rare chance to compare a sportive rider’s climbing time with the pros on the exact same route in such a short period of time is a real treat.

From Pinzolo to Aprica (175km) facing the climbs of Campo Carlo Magno, Passo del Tonale, Aprica (first passage), Passo del Mortirolo and the final climb to Aprica.

The Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia offers two route options for sportive cyclists: the Gran Fondo long route of 175km, and the medium route of 102km which finishes after the first arrival at Aprica. To participate, non-Italian resident riders must either be registered to a national cycling federation, or have a registration recognized by the Union Cycliste Internationale, or hold a medical certification for the race.

To participate and find other useful information please visit the website – if you need further clarification please email:

The cost for non-Italian residents to register for the event is €90 + €20 for transport (optional). Registrations will be closed on April 30 2015.

Due to the start and finish being in different locations, the organizers offer a number of different transport options for riders and/or their bicycles. A secure area for bikes will be provided in Pinzolo.

-For those who wish to sleep in Pinzolo (at the start): at the end of the race you have the option to return on a coach service leaving from Aprica either at 17:00 or after the broom wagon’s arrival at the finish.
-For those who wish to sleep in Aprica (at the finish): a coach service with bicycle transport will leave at 05:00, taking you to the start location.
-For those who wish to leave the car in Aprica (finish) and sleep in Pinzolo (start): a coach service with bicycle transport will leave on Saturday 16 May at two different times: 15:00 and 18:00. Baggage will be delivered back from Pinzolo to Aprica with a dedicated van service, to be delivered to the start no later than 07:30.

Content for the Italian Cycling Journal is now based upon contributions from readers. Please contribute. Stories about rides, granfondos, touring, having a good time cycling in Italy, Italian cycling history, racing, etc. are always welcome. Contact me at   

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

50th Tirreno Adriatico 2015 Starts Tomorrow

The pre-race press conference of the 50th Tirreno Adriatico 2015 took place this afternoon at race headquarters in Lido di Camaiore.

The event was attended by Alberto Contador (winner, Giro d’Italia 2008, Tour de France 2009, Vuelta a Espana 2008, 2012, 2014), Vincenzo Nibali (winner, Vuelta a Espana 2010, Giro d’Italia 2013, Tour de France 2014), Nairo Quintana (winner, Giro d’Italia 2014), Rigoberto Urán, Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan. Chris Froome was going to participate but will not race due to a lung infection.

The 'Race Between Two Seas' starts tomorrow with a 5.4km individual time trial (due to the extreme weather conditions that have affected Tuscany and in particular the area around Versilia it became necessary to modify the first stage from a long team time trial to the 5.4km individual time trial). The peloton is packed with other great riders, including General Classification contenders Bauke Mollema, Joaquim Rodríguez, Daniel Martin, Thibaut Pinot and Jurgen Van Den Broeck; sprinters Mark Cavendish, Elia Viviani, Sacha Modolo and Luka Mezgec; and attackers such as Greg Van Avermaet, Filippo Pozzato and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

The riders who took part in the press conference made the following statements:

Alberto Contador: “For me, this year is a bit different from last. I’m in good form, Andalucia gave me some confidence. At every moment, in my head, I have the Giro d’Italia. This year, I want to try to win every race I ride, but at the same time I’m thinking of the Giro. It’ll be hard to win Tirreno Adriatico again, given the high level of my rivals. It is true that Froome is not here, but the winners of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia are here, so my approach will not change. As for where the race will be decided. I don’t know the Terminillo, so I don’t know how selective it will be. But I will take it day by day, stay concentrated so the the race doesn’t slip away from me and, in the end, we’ll see. But in all probability, on the final day, I will have to ride a good time trial.”

Vincenzo Nibali: “My year has started differently from last year. In 2014, my objective was the Tour, but after riding the Giro and the Vuelta, I struggled to find my rhythm. This year, my goals are the same, but I have tried to work harder in the winter. I’m not in my Tour de France condition, and I haven’t ridden against Alberto [Contador], Rigoberto [Urán] or Nairo [Quintana]. They are all great riders, and Alberto has had great results already this season. So we’ll see day by day and, if I feel good one day, I’ll see what I can do, and then we’ll see how the GC goes.

Rigoberto Urán: “I have a good team around me and I have come here to do well. We would have been competitive in the team time trial, but in the end the modifications change nothing for me. The race goes on. In any case, it is always special to race in Italy, and tomorrow will be memorable for me because I will wear the jersey of the Colombian national time trial champion for the first time. I hope the Colombian fans come out, and I will try to do my best for them.”

Nairo Quintana: “I’ve been out of competition for some time so this race is very important for me. I was second last year, but my goals were very different then. I’m calm, it’s my first race in Europe, and there are some strong rivals around me. For me it will be a race for fine-tuning form, getting some kilometers in my legs and finding some rhythm. I love racing in Italy because of the passion of the fans.”

Fabian Cancellara: “I would like to say ‘Well done’ to the organizers. Security is the most important thing and the changes they have made show that they are thinking of us. I came here to work for Bauke and Julian, and to put them in a good position to fight for the General Classification. To change objectives from one day to the other is mentally hard, although I’m used to it. Now I’ll ride alone. I could do well, but a 5.4km time trial is very short, and it means that a lot more riders are in with a chance.”

Peter Sagan: “Strade Bianche was my first really hard race of the season. I attacked very strongly because that was how I was feeling. One year it works, the next it doesn’t. I am in good shape here at Tirreno Adriatico and you’ve got to have a go. I’m here to try to win. I won’t be waiting for Arezzo, where I won last year. I intend to be in the sprint tomorrow, and we’ll see how it goes.”

THE STAGES, March 11-March 17
The race will start from Camaiore’s renowned Lido, in the Italian Versilia region, with a 5.4km individual time trial.. The first rider, Davide Villella, will leave the start ramp at 1.10pm CET tomorrow afternoon; the last rider, Alberto Contador, will start at 4.04pm.

The second stage, starting from Camaiore and finishing in Cascina (153km), is mostly flat and is likely to see the fastest wheels in the peloton sprint for the finish.

Cascina will be the starting location of the 203km third stage and, as per last year, will end up in Arezzo on the same climb that saw Peter Sagan win.

Saturday the 14th will see a deceptively challenging 226km fourth stage, held predominantly between the Umbrian and Le Marche regions. The stage will start from Indicatore (Arezzo) with four King of the Mountain climbs: Foce dello Scopetone, Poggio San Romualdo and the final Crispiero climb twice just before the short descent towards Castelraimondo.

The 197km Queen stage will be held on Sunday 15th, starting from Esanatoglia and finishing at the summit of Monte Terminillo (1,675m), with two KOM climbs in the initial and central phases of the day (Passo Sallegri and Le Arette climbs).

The 210km penultimate stage, which is ideal for sprinters, will bring the peloton from Rieti to Porto Sant’Elpidio.

The 50th edition of the “Race of the Two Seas” will again come to a close in San Benedetto del Tronto, with a final-day 10km Individual Time Trial crowning the winner of the Tirreno Adriatico.

Content for the Italian Cycling Journal is now based upon contributions from readers. Please contribute. Stories about rides, granfondos, touring, having a good time cycling in Italy, Italian cycling history, racing, etc. are always welcome. Contact me at   

Monday, March 9, 2015

Haute Route Dolomites Swiss Alps 2015

Haute Route Dolomites Swiss Alps 2015, Geneva, Switzerland to Venice, Italy. 31st August to 6th September (seven con secutive stages), 893 Km, 23,500 meters of elevation gain.

A largely changed route, with more than 50% of the course new compared to last year, featuring 12 breathtaking new ascents and a record amount of climbing in the second edition of the Haute Route Dolomites Swiss Alps in 2015 (August 31st to September 6th). This new course will offer the toughest ever Haute Route course and includes the giants of the region new to the event, such as, the Passo del Bernina, Passo Sella and Forcola di Livigno on the west-to-east course — a first for the event.

The 893km course covers a staggering 23,500 vertical meters of climbing between Geneva, Switzerland and the finish in Venice, Italy. While the event is set to live up to its billing as the world’s highest and toughest cyclosportive, riders can still rely on the trademark combination of professional-level rider support and unrivaled post-ride facilities after the organizers have announced the inclusion of tried and tested host venues from last year’s inaugural event.

Stage by stage:
Event Village: Sunday 30th August: Geneva
Stage 1: Monday 31st August: Geneva — Crans-Montana (176km, 4500m +)
Stage 2: Tuesday 1st September: Crans-Montana — Andermatt (144km, 3750m +)
Stage 3: Wednesday 2nd September: Saint Moritz — Passo del Bernina ITT (14km, 700m+)
Stage 4: Thursday 3rd September: Saint Moritz — Bormio (96km, 3560km +)
Stage 5: Friday 4th September: Bormio — Merano (148km, 4000m +)
Stage 6: Saturday 5th September: Merano — Cortina d’Ampezzo 140km, 4320m +)
Stage 7: Sunday 6th September: Cortina d’Ampezzo — Venice (174km, 2580m +)

More details at:

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Results of Strade Bianche Eroica Pro and Women Elite

America's Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) has been crowned the inaugural Strade Bianche Women Elite champion, after a solo break 20 km from the finish line.

The Boels Dolmans Cycling Team completed a remarkable day, placing Elizabeth Armitstead in second 37" behind her teammate. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda) finished 3rd in same time.


How the race unfolded: “My team-mate Christine Majerus was in there early, but on the gravel section, where Lizzie attacked, we lost her. I attacked on the second to last gravel section, so I got to ride the last one on my own. I don’t know if I’m a good time trialist, but I knew I had to stay within myself. I didn’t really know what was in store for me. I knew I had to put all my cards into that move and concentrate on the finish. I never really had a really large gap.”

The white roads: “I loved the course. I think it was a hard course, and it makes it more of a woman-to-woman battle than a matter of team tactics, because it becomes a select field by the end. But the course was amazing, and hard, I love the Strade Bianche. I really wasn’t looking around so much today. It was incredible because you had the climbs and the wind, which was surprisingly strong. I was told it would be windy, but when we got to the places where it hit us, it was surprisingly strong. It was a very complete race: you needed power to get through the wind, and you needed to hit the hard climbs, too. The course was enjoyable, the people along the sidelines were enjoyable, but I probably missed a lot of really great views today.”

Biggest career win: “A win like this was long overdue, but on my father’s side, my great-great-great-grandparents are from Tuscany, so what better place to do it than here? It really hasn’t sunk in yet, and I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and, like, did I really do that? It’s just an incredible race and to do it here is amazing. Everyone is really excited about this race. When it was announced, everyone started looking forward to it. A lot of women’s teams were here early to look at it and prepare. More races like this, please.”

Zdenek Stybar of the Czech Republic won the 2015 Strade Bianche Eroica Pro, finishing ahead of Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet and Spain's Alejandro Valverde.

With 10 km to go these three riders led the race, with a 15" lead over the chasing group. In the final moments of the race Van Avermaet attacked on the final climb, dropping Valverde, Stybar countered and won by 2".

1 - Zdenek Stybar (ETIXX - QUICK-STEP) in 5h22'13" average 37.242 km/h
2 - Greg Van Avermaet (BMC RACING TEAM) at 2"
3 - Alejandro Valverde (MOVISTAR TEAM) at 18"


Decisive break: “It was really difficult because I didn’t want to underestimate Greg, because he’s very explosive, but Valverde is a very big opponent, and with an uphill finish he was always going to be really, really strong, and of course he was waiting for the final climb. In the last 10km, I wasn’t sure how he felt, because when I had to close the gap on Greg, he didn’t want to help because he said he had cramp, but he couldn’t have followed Greg on the climb if he’d had cramp. But I it was really important not to underestimate either of them.”

Final kilometer: “I was just staying on Alejandro [Valverde]’s wheel because I was expecting him to go first, to attack on the steepest part. But Greg surprised me when he attacked at the bottom and kept his speed to the top. I didn’t known whether to stay on his wheel or to stay with Alejandro, but in a millisecond I decided to go because I saw that Alejandro was dropping back. At the top I knew that I had to attack because whoever comes first with 200m to go wins. So I did. Finishing alone in the square in Siena is something I will never forget.”

Is Strade Bianche a Classic?: “I think it absolutely deserves to be a Classic. I think it’s a pity it’s not a WorldTour race. If you can ride on cobbles, you can ride on gravel. In any case, it’s a very special race... It was my first Strade Bianche, and I love it.”

Back from injury: “It was difficult to re-start after the accident at the ENECO Tour, where I lost 3 teeth and broke the 2 beside them. For the first time in my career I had 4 months without racing. It may have helped me. In mid-January I had a dental implant. The last stitches came out in Mallorca on Thursday, but after training yesterday I said I had to go to the dentist or I will lose them. So I saw a dentist yesterday, he solved the problem, and today I won Strade Bianche.”

Content for the Italian Cycling Journal is now based upon contributions from readers. Please contribute. Stories about rides, granfondos, touring, having a good time cycling in Italy, Italian cycling history, racing, etc. are always welcome. Contact me at   

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Strade Bianche Eroica Pro, Saturday, March 7

The name of the race has now been changed to Strade Bianche Eroica Pro from Strade Bianche (the name in use since 2009; when the race began in 2007 it was named Montepaschi Eroica). The race was originally born in 1997 on the roads of L’Eroica, a non-competitive cycling event on historic bikes with the goal of reviving old time cycling, riding on a course that predominantly uses the white gravel roads of the Siena region.

Note that this year will also be the first time there will womens race, read more here.

50km of 'white road' in ten sections, with stretches rated '5 stars' for difficulty.

The peloton will take on an extremely hilly race route at the famous ‘Strade Bianche’. The race may lack long climbs, but in their place it offers a long series of formidable inclines, some of them tremendously steep. What makes this race distinctive is the inclusion of approximately 50km of dirt tracks, the famous White Roads or ‘Strade Bianche’, which is divided into ten sections. The White Roads are compacted into a hard, durable surface with a small amount of loose gravel and largely free of vegetation.

From the race start, at San Gimignano, the first 33km is on rolling, asphalted roads. The route passes close to the splendid medieval village of Monteriggioni, before the first White Road section begins (Section One: 2.2km, difficulty rating: 2-stars). After another 13km of asphalt, the second White Road section follows (Section Two: 2.1km, difficulty rating: 1-star). Perfectly straight and on the slightest of descents, this section is probably the least challenging of the race. 5km separate Sections Two and Three. Section Three is the first really difficult part of the race, a 5.9km sector rated 4-stars; it begins with a short, gentle descent, before ramping upward for a longer climb at a gradient of around 10%. The fourth White Road section begins at the village of Radi, 4.4km long and with a difficulty of 2-stars. Section Five starts immediately afterwards, in woodland, over less demanding gradients (Section Five: 5.5km, difficulty 1-star).

Beyond Buonconvento lies the climb to Montalcino, the longest of the day (4km at 5%). After the descent that follows, the race joins Via Cassia, an ancient Roman road (now Strada Statale 2) for the feed zone (km 105 to 108) on the way to San Quirico d’Orcia. At Pienza, the sixth section of White Road begins. This 36km stretch of asphalt is the longest of the race (Section Six: 9.5km, difficulty rating: 3-stars), and begins with a climb over a rougher surface, leading to the village of Lucignano d’Asso, and then returning to asphalt roads towards Asciano.

At Ponte del Garbo (Asciano, km 147), Section Seven of White Road begins; it’s the hardest of the race at 11.5 m and with a difficulty rating of 5-stars. Mostly climbing, it also comprises a number of abrupt ramps and hollows, especially on the roads around Monte Sante Marie, where the gradients are extremely high over short stretches.

At Castelnuovo Berardenga, a very short stretch of flat White Road (300m) precedes Section Eight, beginning just after Monteaperti, which covers 800m and includes a steep ramp where the gradients reach double figures. Then, the route regains asphalt roads at Vico d’Arbia, and pursues them as far as Pieve a Bozzone, where the penultimate section of White Roads starts (Section Nine: 2.4km, difficulty 4-stars) on the climb up to Colle Pinzuto, with gradients of up to 15%. The final section begins at km 183.8 (Section Ten: 1.1km, difficulty 3-stars), with a sharp descent followed by a steep ascent (maximum gradient 18%) which finishes at the village of Le Tolfe. From there, 12km remain to the finish line at Siena's Piazza del Campo.

The demanding final kilometers, with gradients up to 16%, approach the city of Siena along broad, straight sections of road, connected by sweeping curves, first descending, and then climbing slightly. 2km from the finish line, the route joins Via Esterna de Fontebranda, where the gradient touches 9%. 900m from the finish line, the race route passes beneath Fontebranda Gate where the road surface becomes paving slabs. The gradient exceeds 10% until 500m from the finish line, reaching its highpoint of 16% in Via Santa Caterina. A sharp right hand turn leads to Via delle Terme, and then Via Banchi di Sotto. With 300m to go, the road continues to climb slightly then, 150m from the line, a right turn leads into Via Rinaldini. The route enters the Piazza del Campo just 70 m from the finish line. The final 30m descends at a gradient of 7% and the finish line itself is flat.

There’s a favorite for the 9th edition of the race: Fabian Cancellara who said, "I will be ready for the challenge on Saturday. This is one of my favorite races and I’ve already won it twice. I’m in good shape and, with no doubts, I will try to win for a third time thanks to the help of my teammates, which I’m sure will support me. This race, thanks to its course and its scenery, is certainly unique in the international race calendar”.

Challenging Cancellara will be several Italian and overseas cycling champions that have performed very well at previous editions of the Strade Bianche, and in races that are technically similar.

Peter Sagan, second in 2014 and 2013, is the big name. But we have to mention Nibali, Valverde (third last year), Stannard, Terpstra (who has great form from recent races), Gerrans, Vanmarcke, Moser (2013 champion), Nocentini (third in 2013) and Gatto (third in 2012).

There will be now be 20 teams starting the race. The organization has invited the Italian national team, led by Davide Cassani, which will start with six riders.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Strada delle 52 Gallerie

Not for the faint of heart:

The where and history of this "road" here.

Thanks to Buzz for the info.

Content for the Italian Cycling Journal is now based upon contributions from readers. Please contribute. Stories about rides, granfondos, touring, having a good time cycling in Italy, Italian cycling history, racing, etc. are always welcome. Contact me at