With the Coronavirus lockdown, we are missing our Italian cycling!
Although football is the biggest public interest sport in Italy, cycling comes a very close second, and attracts huge numbers of race fans, as well as participant cyclists of all age groups.
Second only to the Tour de France in importance, is the three-week long Giro d’Italia, and it’s reckoned that more than one billion people across the world watch the Giro during May. The race started in 1909, and has taken place annually, apart from a break during both World Wars and now Covid! It was originally split into eight stages covering 2,448 km, that is some cycling, when you consider the length of todays race is approx. 3,500 km but over 21 stages.
In 2018, the race came through Filottrano in memory of Michele Scarponi, who was one of Italy’s best ever cyclists, and a previous Giro winner, Michele also lived in the town. Tragically in 2017 he died in a traffic accident, just a couple of kilometres away from his home. The town went into mourning as he was so loved by the Filottranese, but now every year around the anniversary of his death, there is an open cycle event where thousands of cyclists tour the region around.
In addition to the Giro there are many other local races, ranging from the early season Tirreno-Adriatico, a week-long professional race which runs from the west to east coast of Italy (The Race of the Two Seas), to local club events for the enthusiastic amateur.
Apart from racing, cycling is a huge participation sport. Every weekend during the Spring and Summer there are vast numbers of keen cyclists out on the road. In Italy, car drivers appear more tolerant than here in the UK, and give cyclists an extra wide berth!