What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro di Pez: The Rides of Marche

Roadside St.11 The plan today was to ride a loop in the Marche landscape discovering new places and special view to offer to you. I was quite worried for the reaction of my body, not trained for an important ride but at the end I found the energies to come back home.

Marche is “my” region. It’s not so famous as Tuscany but can offer the same kind of landscape and quietness. We have olive oil, wine and good food, sometimes even better than other regions but we are little bit hidden to the world and also to the Italians. Before moving here, ten years ago I was also not aware of the treasures you can find here. Yes the sea, but it’s nothing special. If you really love the sea you should go to the Tyrrhenian side of Italy. Our beaches are flat and boring, but we know how to make them interesting. At this time several people are preparing beaches for the tourists that will start to come next month. Unfortunately they don’t know the best period is now! But the strength of the Marche is the countryside. Hidden villages surrounded by ancient walls, green hills, farms, lonely roads and healthy food (maybe little bit fat..).

The starting point of my short loop is Porto Potenza, on the sea, a few kilometres south of Civitanova, then heading west into the countryside to reach the Giro route of today stage. Ah yes, the stage. It’s the classic Apennines stage with no flat and a lot of short climbs. A good stage to make something different and to attack the Maglia rosa. Everybody here is waiting for Scarponi because he lives in Filottrano, a couple of valleys over. The topography of the Marche region is very easy: eleven valleys parallel to each other and watching the sea.

Back to my loop the plan is to hit the Giro route at the beginning of Morrovalle climb, the last of four short climbs. This is a 4th category one, the easiest, but is worrying me as an hors category because it’s my first ride of the year out of the track where I’m training: I had a bad incident to the knee (damned soccer) last fall and I’m recovering without surgery (I hate doctors).

So, Morrovalle is my devil, and I have to overcome it. You’ll read about some epic climbs by our Richard Pestes next week but please consider the “relative effect”. This 3,5 km of climb are a very important test for me and it’s something serious! I don’t hide I had some trouble but I was able to reach the top with a nice pace, at least without coming below 10 km/h which is the limit below which I consider much better a good walk. The first warmth of the year didn’t help me, but I safely overcame the line on the top where several people were already waiting for the race.

A stop for a picture to the ancient “door” and the time to realize where the Giro is. Still about an hour, good, so I proceeded to the next valley. The descent was quite straight and fast but the tarmac was perfect. The other climb was even shorter, not assigned with any category, but had some steep parts, over 10%. My knee replied perfectly and I started to believe much more in my possibilities.

The plan was to wait for the Giro on this short steep climb hoping for some important attack at about 30 km to the finish. The race was coming and eleven were ahead of the bunch. Those are the minutes I like of every race: all the people are very excited for the incoming passage. But I don’t care for it: I like to look around and to enjoy the quietness of the moment. No cars on the road and the wind blowing. Far away the helicopter is following the race. This is the moment for me; forget any business duty, forget even the family. Just the sound of the grain coming from the fields.

And the race comes. There’s a move in the breakaway group by a Katusha, but the bunch is coming fast from behind. All the favourites are there and Contador is well defended by his teammates. No move from Scarponi, a lot of people was waiting for him.

The race has gone and I remain a little bit there, alone. Watching the hills and wondering if I will find the strength to get back to the car. Luckily there are no more climbs in front of me but just an easy descent to the sea.

At the end are about 50 km of ride, which are not bad. The thoughts are going already to tomorrow. The race will pass in my town, Fano, and I will have the opportunity to show something more about me and people I know. Looking forward to those minutes just before the race when everything else stops to be really important. There’s a place for each of us were we come back to the time when the time had no reason. My one is the Giro.

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