Rider’s ride

Bianchi In­tenso 2014, ap­prox £1,850, uk.bianchi.com

Cyclist - - Sportive -

Thanks to a solid Ful­crum wheelset and de­cent Vit­to­ria Open Pavé CG tyres, the In­tenso han­dled con­fi­dently and the frame was com­fort­able on the flat, but its weight was ap­par­ent on the sharp Mon­fer­rato ramps. The Ve­loce groupset had a pos­i­tive but slightly heavy shift that kept me on my toes when shift­ing un­der load, but this didn’t de­tract from the over­all qual­ity of the ride.

Af­ter tak­ing ad­van­tage of the first feed sta­tion to re­hy­drate, the route quickly re­pays its ini­tial de­mands with an ex­hil­a­rat­ing 9km de­scent, wind­ing through the hills of Mon­fer­rato that rep­re­sent Turin’s eastern bor­der. Head­ing south, we bar­rel straight across the flat­lands to­wards the town of Chieri. With 20km of flat roads to come un­der cloud­less skies with not a breath of wind, I rel­ish the op­por­tu­nity to set­tle into the drops and lift my av­er­age speed.

Mak­ing new friends

The ex­posed roads con­sol­i­date frag­mented rid­ers into groups, and be­fore long I find my­self in a large bunch rac­ing past the maize fields and ram­bling houses of ru­ral Pied­mont. As we ride, our num­bers con­tinue to swell, to the point where it be­comes a lit­tle un­set­tling when we hit the cob­bled town cen­tre of Riva presso Chieri at 40kmh and burst out onto the nar­row, twist­ing roads be­yond.

De­cid­ing to bravely take my des­tiny in my own hands, I move up the group and as­sume a po­si­tion on the front. At a gen­tle bend in the road I look over my shoul­der and dis­cover I have 50 rid­ers on my wheel. The ex­cite­ment goes to my head and, even though I know it won’t en­dear my­self to my rid­ing com­pan­ions and will prob­a­bly cost me later in the day, I lift the pace. The train of rid­ers be­hind stretches out to over 100m, but my fas­ci­na­tion at the ef­fect one rider can have on the dy­nam­ics of a pelo­ton is in­ter­rupted by some­one shout­ing in Ital­ian be­hind me. By the tone it’s safe to say it wasn’t ‘I re­ally like the speed you are go­ing, keep it up’, so I calm down and re­treat back into the bunch for the few re­main­ing flat kilo­me­tres.

The sec­ond feed sta­tion is sit­u­ated near the vil­lage of Fer­rere and marks a dis­tinct change in the land­scape. The flat, ex­pan­sive hori­zon is re­placed by heav­ily wooded hills – they form the south­ern tip of the Mon­fer­rato range that we’ll now weave back up through to reach the Basil­ica di Su­perga, where the event fin­ishes. Ear­lier in the day, Da­vide Cer­chio from Pied­mont bike ho­tel Lo Scoiat­tolo, where I’ve been stay­ing, told

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