GIRO DELL’ EM ILIA
Is the Giro dell’Emilia, first run in 1909, the best kept secret in cycling? The 101st edition mixed the beautiful chaos of Italian racing with a start list packed with top riders - it really was a who’s who of the sport. The race was watched by fans who know their cycling, roadbooks in hand poring over the start list like punters at a horse race. Their weathered faces suggested some had probably seen the majority of editions.
The race started in a venue that was a cross between Birmingham’s NEC Arena and a low-rent shopping centre. The riders signed on at an inflatable stage, having ridden through the hall doors and over a wrinkled blue carpet which covered the slick floor tiles. Members of the local cycling club created a tunnel for the riders and an over-enthusiastic official oversaw the proceedings.
The race never strayed far from Bologna. In fact, it only travelled 50km out of the city and took in climbs to Mongardino, Passo Brasimone and Valico Ganzole before looping back for five ascents of the Via di San Luca to the magnificent basilica at the summit. It was a real war of attrition and each lap thinned out the peloton. Only the strongest riders were left to fight it out on the final ascent. Fans hid from the rain in the porticos beside the road.
I love shooting races like this. There’s no fanfare, no razzmatazz or overbearing security. It is just bike racing at its purest with an appreciative, knowledgeable crowd along the barriers. There’s no fancy dress, or selfie sticks – just mutual respect and plenty of Italian passion. 1. Bologna’s landmark Santuario di San Luca basilica loomed in the mist as Alessandro Di Marchi soloed to victory
2. It was a low-key start, with little glitz and glamour and the race’s lead car sat ready to be driven out at the race start 3. Age is just a number: an elderly passer-by looked ready to join in
4. The Italian Classic kicked o! f a week of one-day races that built up to the big one, Il Lombardia
5. The rain didn’t stop the locals, who sheltered roadside under their umbrellas
6. The peloton passed over the Lago del Brasimone, an arti!icial lake in the Bolognese Apennines 7. Autumn arrived and a light sprinkling of orange leaves covered the road; the peloton was heading towards the season’s end 8. Simon Yates, the Vuelta winner, was among the riders who climbed through the terracotta tinted city 9. There was no doubting where this supporter’s allegiance lay, though Moscon faded to 17th
10. A soaked and sodden Thibaut Pinot looked downcast after only managing to !inish in !ifth place
11. BMC’s De Marchi and Dylan Teuns embraced as both made it onto the podium in San Luca 12. EF"Drapac’s Daniel Martínez kept his focus as he chased hard on wet roads
Photographed by CHRIS AULD