GIRO DELL’ EM ILIA

Procycling - - THE BIG INTERVIEW -

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

1.

Pho­tographed by CHRIS AULD

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