What's Cool In Road Cycling

Roadside PEZ: Giro dell’Emilia!

The Giro dell’Emilia is always one of our favorite races of the year here at Pez. The amazing finish past the famous arches, the relentless finishing climb and the sights, sounds and atmosphere of this race make it truly one of a kind. Today our man in Italy, Ale takes you inside the Emilia to show you just how beautiful our sport can be – Roadside!

Not as big as a Pro Tour event. Not as legendary as a Giro di Lombardia. But Giro dell’Emilia is one of the most interesting races in the Italian calendar. Not far from my home in Fano, it’s one of the Classics I love and I always try not to miss the opportunity to be there in person. The San Luca climb, along the 2 km arches starting from the city and reaching the top of the hill where a gorgeous Sanctuary is located, is the symbol of this race. It’s cool to be there but my experience says it’s so difficult to transfer all the emotions on the screen. Let’s do that today, trying to bring you my view from under the arches.

A public garden and relaxed atmosphere greeted the riders on their way to a serious suffering session just a few hours later.

The Giro dell’Emilia 2012 takes place from the public garden in Bologna, a city that is not one of the most preferred by the tourists, which are attracted more by the artistic cities we have here, but Bologna is a nice place to live. It’s not too chaotic, not too small; has got everything and it’s not far away from the sea and from the mountains. The food is absolutely the best here. That’s why all the world knows what a “lasagna Bolognese” is. So, back to my story, the departure village it’s so quiet compared with Lombardia’s one of one week ago. Also the weather today is very different. Blue sky and warm. All riders are different; they feel the race has not the same importance as an historic race and they are more flexible and available for a chat, for the people or for their family.

In-form Italian champ, Pellizzotti looked very relaxed at the start playing with his children before putting in a great ride to finish 3rd.

I have a couple of words with my friend Caccia, who’s looking for a contract. This is in fact one of the last races of the year and it’s time to think to vacation or to the next year. Several riders are wondering if they will be able to wear a number on their back again. So today no tension, no crazy photographers killing you for a better place or stressed riders watching everywhere except than in your lens.

Ale’s friend Diego Caccia also looked relaxed at the start but a late search for a contract must be taking its toll.

When the race starts it’s already lunch time and I know the best place to go is the finish line on San Luca where, every year, the GS Emilia (the Organizer) is offering a big buffet to the journalists and to the officials. As every year I grab the Prosciutto Modena, which is produced just a few kilometers far away and it’s really sweet and delicious. And then I also like the coffee they offer over there. A good way to entertain all the journalists and give them a place to stay waiting the race.

Race? What race? There’s a buffet to be eaten!

After lunch I take the opportunity to visit the San Luca Sanctuary; it’s years I’m coming here but I had never been inside. Pictures are not allowed but one for you will be forgiven, I hope!

The forbidden photo. You’re a naughty, naughty boy Ale.

But the race calls already and in agenda there are 5 climbs of the San Luca which is just 2 km but it’s steep and irregular. A bad beast. All along the arches the organizers have located the amplifier and the public can listen to what is happening inside the race. A group of four is losing minute by minute from the 6 they were having some time before and everybody is preparing for the first passage; the most crowded. Lap by lap the riders will quit the race and the season. At the end we will count about 20 riders only on the finish line. So hard is this final.

The ever dwindling bunch climbs past the arches again.

The risk to chase every year the same events it’s to tell you every time the same story and take the same picture. So this year I decide I have to show to you how the San Luca climb begins. I will miss a slow passage but this will be really compensated by a new view of the race for Pez. Maybe I will also finish on the Pez Facebook page as picture of the month! However I have to say this bottom passage has been very interesting. I was not imagining the group was keeping so fast on the climb. I spotted above the Meloncello Arch, a big arch overcoming the road before this takes the left, over “via San Luca”.

Ale managed to change things up this year with this cool overhead shot.

Passage after passage the riders are fewer and fewer. Some attacks from Chavez, Sella and also a very young rider, Aru, an Italian which seems could have a future in this world. Let’s see.

Sella attacked hard but was soon brought back.

You heard it here first folks. Young Aru is a rider to watch.

But it’s Pozzovivo taking the big move at two laps to go. It’s in that moment that I decide to avoid the finish line. So boring, always the same picture, you will see the Cor Vos one. I remain in the Orfanelle area, where the slope overcomes 15% and where the riders make the difference. Where the people scream from arches, where the cycling seems (to me) more real, more natural. What a sport.

Perhaps not your ordinary cycling crowd, but they’re loving every minute.

This is what this sport is all about – pure suffering!

So, now, writing this story I realize another year has gone. And I remember the same moment I spent last spring for Strade Bianche. I was in an Autogrill, as I am, on a highway coming back home, as I am. There is something silly in this circle we are doing every year. Following stories that seems already written on the route. But they are not. It’s not a route making the story, but the people. And the hope these 5-6 months ahead of us, without our beautiful roads cycling stories will pass so fast, remembering how good it was to pursuit those routes. The same.

Like me and can’t get enough of Emilia? Then check out Ale’s story from the 2010 race here for more.

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