Roadside GIRO’16: Chianti TT!
The 2016 Giro d’Italia hit the Chianti region and our man Alessandro Federico was in Tuscany to meet old friends, eat local food and, of course, drink the famous wine of the area. There was also the small matter of a very important time trial. It’s time for Ale’s Giro roadside report.
The morning was perfect. Sunny and warm: the best conditions to watch a bike race on the roadside. The afternoon was miserable. Rainy and cold: you can’t have worse conditions to chase a race. But despite the weather and its changes it was great to watch live a beautiful time trial in one of the most known regions of Italy: the Chianti.
Plan for today was to enjoy the whole day in Castellina in Chianti, at the first intermediate passage. Watching the map I found it teasing because the route was passing into the town. This is a small village which deserves a visit if you are close by. The town sits on top of a hill, surrounded by Chianti vineyards, and it has everything what you can ask from a Tuscan town. Ancient houses made with big stones, a very old church and a beautiful small square in front of it.
In fact when I arrived just before noon time it was already full of tourists, many of them unaware of the Giro passage, but excited by the unexpected event. The first exciting moment of the day came immediately after I parked the car. Meeting with PEZ-fans Colin, Tony Thurman and his wife Helen. I met Colin last March on the Poggio, soon after last Milan-Sanremo passage, he is an enthusiastic reader of our website and he likes my roadside and the “passion I put in the writing”. Those were his own words that make me proud of what I do and thankful to PEZ to give me these opportunities. The cycling world is very small and it’s always great to find friends on the road.
I decided to have a look at Castellina before the race passed. In the main square locals organized the sale of their best delicatessen. The porchetta (entire pork cooked in the oven) was teasing me that much and I had a big sandwich with it. But the “must” of this place is the wine. The red, perfect Chianti wine. These people are very proud of it and they have the best care of their vineyards and of the production. An exciting experience is to visit one of the wineries. It’s cleaner than a laboratory and the smell of the wine is so strong that you feel like you’re drinking it.
When the race passage started around 1 pm the weather was still nice. No more sunny, but warm and cloudy. One by one the riders started to pass through the old walls inside the town. The route was very nervous and difficult. The road inside these ancient villages is twisty and narrow. There was a steep descent with a U bend to get out of the town and many riders were surprised by this unexpected turn despite an official who was assisting them highlighting the danger.
Just out of the town there was a short steep climb heading back to the main road which was climbing for some half a kilometer or more. I decided to go there to watch, best to have less speed and better pictures. It wasn’t a great idea at all! As soon as I was out of the town it started to rain heavily, luckily it only lasted for few minutes. However my shoes were gone, and they are still wet now (and possibly also tomorrow…).
After the storm the weather improved a bit, but just a bit, which helped me get at least the pictures I was looking for. Luckily on the road you always (almost) find some help and a group of three locals offered me a glass of red Chianti to warm up a bit. It was coming to the time of truth, the passage of the best in the GC. Amador looked strong as well as Valverde but the best was for sure Zakarin. Very aggressive, very concentrated. I only came to know from TV coverage that he crashed. I think that could have been the only option to steal from him the win and to take a big advantage on all the others. We will see him back and ready tomorrow.
Tomorrow? Yes. I will also chase that stage that will bring the Giro from Tuscany to the Emilia Appennines. A finish climb in the second week of race can say something already, even if the big mountains are yet to come. Moments of goodbye are delayed 24 hours and tonight I can still dream about another stage. Hoping for a weather improvement.
See more pictures? Follow our Italian correspondent on his Instagram page @alefederico_cycling.