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