What's Cool In Road Cycling

Mondo PEZ: The Tenderness And The Strength

They remain always women, fantastic women. Varese, north Italy: the sky is covered by clouds, but it shouldn’t rain. It’s Saturday and this city is waiting for the great event tomorrow, but today the best women in the world will take to Varese’s streets…

There aren’t too many people who have come to the huge cycling stadium for the Women’s race. It’s still more than normal for the ladies. They’re not so familiar with journalists and photographers but they are always women and when they understand you’re interested in them, they open in a beautiful smile.

I feel out of my world. Usually I’m surrounded by nervous and powerful cyclists but today is another story. I don’t know one of them, but they don’t take care. A woman from Belarus makes a joke with me when she understands I’m just photographing nice women and not cyclists. She says: “Who are you looking for? I’m the real star; I won the World’s last year!” Is it true? She’s nice anyway – any woman is – and I make a photo of her.

More than an hour to the start and there’s a relaxed atmosphere in the boxes. These girls are a mix of tenderness and strength: you see them adjusting their hair and making the last check to the mirror before putting on the helmet – and the final result is beautiful…

…but you also see them stretching and preparing strong legs for the upcoming race.

Sometimes they are thoughtful…

…sometimes they look worried about something.

Sometimes they smile, but anything they do looks special to me.

Everything is similar to the preparation of their male colleagues, but at the same time it’s different. There’s the one who’s always cold…

…there’s the one too shy for an interview…

…there’s the one who needs the last kiss from the boyfriend, but when the starting time advance you start to listen coming out from them a deep strength that make them unique.

The leaders start to become more aggressive if a mate loses time with the last photographer,

…and don’t tell them their bike has got a problem. It happened to a Brazilian and I was very worried for the mechanic (he was too, of course).

They barely started, they’re rolling the first laps while I write a few words on them. I watch the TV in this huge press room, but I see just cyclists pushing like crazies; no more smiles, no more angels. Just devils for a few hours.

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