Roadside Giro: The Vineyards Affair
Giro’14 St.12: PEZ’s inimitable Roadside reportage picks up in the famous Barolo wine country in Peimonte – the region named literally for its place at the foot of the Alps, where luckily for us, sampling the local fare is expected when the pink race comes by.
This ITT was indicated by most of the commentators as the real start of the Giro. Now, that it’s gone we can read the general classification with more understanding to the real possibilities the contenders have to compete for the final maglia rosa in Trieste. Uran has set his law and after the second place last year he can look forward to the next weekend more than anyone else. A bit of disappointment came from Evans who was credited today as the favorite within the GC contenders (Uran included) but he lost too many seconds from the Colombian.
But the real disappointment came from the other Colombian, Quintana. Credited to be the favorite number one in Belfast, he was much worse than the Australian and I have the impression that his Giro is a bit compromised now. The next weekend becomes now a key moment of the whole Giro. All the time trial specialists were also eliminated by the bad weather conditions that compromised the middle part of the race (the moment when all the specialists were starting) and Malori, the favorite of the day, was suffering too much from yesterday’s crash .
Today I was in the full action taking place after few kilometers from the start, on the first climb of the day and this was a very good choice because the view was fantastic and I had also the chance to meet cool people on the roadside giving a reason to the entire day. I decided to see the action in the countryside of a small village named Treiso. This place is located in the hills surrounding Alba, the famous town of the white truffles, in the Piemonte region. We are in the north west of Italy, in the Piemonte region at the feet of the Alps and these hills are known with the name of Langhe. Red wines are the local specialty together with the mushrooms and truffles.
Any village or town you meet here it’s quite common to find a place where you can taste one of their famous wines. Barbaresco and Barolo, the starting and the finish towns of today’s stage are also giving the name to these two excellent wines: the most famous and also the most expensive you can find here in Italy (as red one). The grapes are the same, and are named Nebbiolo; from the grapes you have the Nebbiolo wine, but when this is aged for more than 3 years it becomes Barolo or Barbaresco, depending where the original vineyard was located.
Here any house, any family, anyone is involved in the wine industry and there are a lot of foreigners (especially Swiss and Germans) all the time of the year, experiencing the good lifestyle these places can offer and tasting the red nectar. The roads are very scenic, twisting on the top of the hills covered by vineyards and I have to say this is the perfect place to experience a bike ride in Italy.
Unfortunately the weather was far to be perfect and all the day the clouds covered the sky and the hills colors. But it was very fun anyway to spend another day chasing the Giro d’Italia and spending time together with all the people on the road. Many were really well organized preparing the lunch on the roadside or just a picnic. Some of them also offered me some good sandwiches and, of course a glass of wine, so that at the end of the day I had to eat some more food to avoid a dangerous driving to the hotel.
Special mention to Giacusa people who were offering ‘genepy’ (a strong alcoholic drink made with Alpine herbs) to any cop anticipating the riders. I couldn’t escape from the genepy shot, wearing the Giro credential I was an easy victim. Ah, yes, what’s Giacusa? The name of a place, few houses lost in the vineyards.
Tomorrow? On the paper seem to be a quiet day for the riders with a flat stage from Fossano to Rivarolo Canavese with just a 4th category climb at more than 30 km to the finish. We will be still in Piemonte and still at mountains’ feet. The GC contenders can have just 24 hours of quiet life before the great mountain stages begin. I will be at the start and will probably watch a passage in a town; I love to wait the Giro in those minor towns which are awaiting the race with a sincere warm desire. Road to Montecampione is still long.