The rest day confirmed it. You could sense the nervousness in the office. For the last two weeks the La Fuga office has been glued to the Giro d’Italia, watching the drama, stage by stage, pedal stroke by pedal stroke.
There has been a new rhythm to every day, with a hard deadline to finish your daily tasks by 3:30pm to be able to watch the story of the Maglia Rosa unfold on each finish line. But when the rest day came, it proved disruptive. Where would we get our Giro fix from now? With such exciting racing throughout the first half of this Giro, a sudden halt in the action was excruciating. We’re officially hooked on the Giro…
We’ve been particularly excited about this 2015 edition of the Giro as it has passed through so many of our favourite riding areas in Italy. Each region tells a fascinatingly different story and many of our La Fuga trips showcase similar areas, such as Cinque Terre, Prosecco, the Italian Riviera, the Dolomites and Piemonte. If you’ve been inspired by the Giro as much as we have, book some time to experience the same roads yourself. Italy is the spiritual home of La Fuga and we can’t think of many countries where you’ll find such a rich combination of real cycling history, culture, stunning scenery and exquisite cuisine.
We pulled together our top five 2015 Giro d’Italia stages and related La Fuga trips to the same area. Read on to discover which trip could be your own Giro d’Italia this year.
1. La Fuga Tour: CINQUE TERRE, 11 – 14 September 2015
The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera, in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. “The Five Lands” comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Almost totally cut off for cars, the colourful harbour is something quite special and the Gran Fondo offers a spectacular way of exploring this charming region, and to enjoy some late summer sunshine.
Giro d’Italia: RAPALLO – SESTRI LEVANTE, Stage 03
Stage 3 of the Giro finished in Sestri Levante, the same town which we choose as our base for the Gran Fondo Cinque Terre. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) enjoyed his first day in the maglia rosa at this year’s Giro d’Italia with a win in Sestri Levante courtesy of a powerful late sprint. The win continued Orica-GreenEdge’s excellent start to the race after their win in the opening team time trial on Sunday in San Remo and a brief spell in the pink jersey for Simon Gerrans.
2. La Fuga Tour: TUSCAN RAID, 8 – 12 October 2015
Tuscany in the autumn is very special. The day time temperatures are generally in their high 20’s (degrees C) and cooler at night. The smell of wood fires fills the evening air giving a reassuring holiday feel to those not used to these most local of seasonal smells. Taking in our classic routes, the Tuscan Raid has been planned to take in some of the best riding available in the region. Along our journey we will visit some iconic Tuscan towns such as Volterra, as well as some of the Strade Bianca – white gravel roads – featured in the popular L’Eroica sportive as well as tackle the classic climbs of Monte San Savino, Monte Luco and San Baronto – the training ground for so many pros who live in the area.
Giro d’Italia: MONTECATINI TERME – CASTIGLIONE DELLA PESCAIA, Stage 06
Starting just outside our base town of Lucca, the Giro followed a beautiful route through the Tuscan rollers back towards the sea. Lotto Soudal lead the peloton with Lars Bak and other teammates doing long turns for Greipel entering Castiglione della Pescaia. Greg Henderson led out Greipel on the long finishing straight as the other sprinters fought for his wheel. The sprint was hectic, with the crash scattering riders across the road behind the sprinters. But Greipel was ahead of the chaos, hit out early and won with his arms in the air. It was his first stage victory at the Giro since he won in Brescia back in 2010.
3. La Fuga Tour: GRAN FONDO NOVE COLLI, 8 – 12 October 2015
A challenge for the weekend, the Nove Colli, is Italy’s most popular granfondo, and definitely one for the bucket list. Started in 1970 by a group of friends, the race now attracts over 10,000 riders from all over Italy and beyond. Starting from Cesenatico, home of the legendary Maro Pantani, the route heads into the hills that mark the Marche / Emilia Romagna border. The hills come thick and fast and although the highest point – Monte Pugliano – at 791m is no alp, the constant undulations are sure to take their toll. Thankfully the finish by the beach, stunning scenery, and fine local cuisine served after you cross the line are worth the trip in itself.
Giro d’Italia: CIVITANOVA MARCHE – FORLÌ, Stage 10
A day full of unexpected controversy as the peloton flew along the Riviera coastline, passing right past Cesenatico on the charge to Forli. Few would have given the five-man group much of a chance with the sprinters’ teams hungry for success after Monday’s rest-day. The profile of the stage was ideally suited for a bunch gallop and with the break unable to establish more than five minutes over the field the level of expectancy for the likes of Greipel, Matthews and Viviani to decide the stage only grew. But Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF) took a well-deserved win after out sprinting his breakaway companions. The Italian proved the freshest of a five-man break in the closing kilometres of a pulsating stage that saw the sprinters’ teams miss out and Richie Porte get penalised 2 minutes for receiving help form an Orica Green Edge rider after a late-race mechanical. That a gesture of camaraderie like this should suffer such a harsh penalty caused an outburst of protest against the UCI and Giro organisers.
3. La Fuga Tour: GRAN FONDO PROSECCO, 2 – 5 October 2015 2015
Waiters lining the streets with popping bottles, jets training coloured smoke over start gate, cannons sounding the off, routes showcasing classic Italian vineyards and feed stops overflowing with Prosecco. There’s only one place you’ll find all this: Granfondo Prosecco! Autumn in Italy has to be one of the enticing times of year for cyclists. Whilst the similarly eclectic, L’Eroica takes place in Tuscany, to the fanfare of vintage bikes, breeches, cheese and wine, the Granfondo Prosecco is a great end of season challenge with an added touch of class. Taking place in the Prealpi, north of Treviso, amongst the vineyards that produce the world famous Prosecco sparkling wine, the course really rewards a summer of training, racing and riding. Hard enough to make the legs sting, but easy enough to race, the routes are undeniable beautiful.
Giro d’Italia: TREVISO – VALDOBBIADENE (ITT), Stage 14
The hearts of many a 5ft 6in, 60kg climber would have leapt upon first seeing only one effort against the clock in the Giro route, only to sink again upon realising that it’s 59km long. In packing all of this year’s time trialling kilometres into just one stage, the organisers have created the longest Giro TT since the 60km stage in 2009, when Denis Menchov put over a minute into all but one of his rivals and first gained the pink jersey that he would go on to defend to the end. This stage is likely to be just as pivotal, and, despite featuring some bumpy terrain to redress the balance, will have all the non-specialists nervous — the losses sustained from a bad day in the saddle will be compounded by the stage’s excessive length, and would be hard to recover from in the final week. Who will be drinking the Prosecco at the end of today?
4. La Fuga Tour: HAUTE ROUTE DOLOMITES, 30 August – 7 September 2015 2015
The Haute Route cycling events are ‘the highest and toughest cyclosportives in the world’. More demanding than any other week of riding you’ve done; tackling 900km over 7 days of consecutive riding, with over 20,000m of climbing over 20 celebrated cols, the Haute Route Dolomites will be thoroughly etched into you legs by the time you finish the Geneva-Venice journey. Open to a relatively small field of just over 500 riders, the race promotes a unique atmosphere of competition and camaraderie. With rider classifications and times posted on a daily basis, leaders jerseys, team prizes and a professional level of support the Haute Route is the closest experience amateur riders will have to a Grand Tour stage race. The Haute Route actually passes down much of the Giro Stage 14 ITT route down through Treviso to Venice mentioned above, but the high mountains are where the Haute Route really comes alive. This area of the Italian Alps is where the day can be won or lost on one mountainside. Over the years La Fuga trips have taken us across all the major summits of the area: Stelvio, Gavia, Mortirolo and Passo Foscagno.
Giro d’Italia: PINZOLO – APRICA, Stage 16
After a rest day to recharge the batteries, the Giro makes a spectacular return with this year’s blockbuster stage, which promises action from start to finish and glamorous stars everywhere in the shape of high mountain passes.
The first of the day’s five summits — the Campo Carlos Magno — is tackled right from kilometre zero, and is immediately followed by the equally difficult Passo del Tonale. A long descent is followed by the first of two ascents up the Passo Aprica, with the mighty Mortirolo in between. Lance Armstrong once described it as “the hardest climb I’ve ever ridden” (although that was before he faced the metaphorical mountain of rebuilding his post-confession public image), and it’s easy to see why — its gradient rarely dips below double digits, and goes on for a whole 12.8km. The race should explode on these slopes, and set up a thrilling finale.
5. La Fuga Tour: GIRO DI LOMBARDIA, 2 – 5 October 2015
The ‘Giro di Lombardia’ race holds a special place on the calendar as the closing race of the European season and is often a showcase to the recently crowned World Road Race champion showing off his new jersey. Started in 1905 this year will be the 109th edition of the event. The race is affectionately nicknamed ‘la classica delle foglie morte’ or ‘the classic of the falling leaves’ due to its autumn place on the calendar and the stunning autumnal colours the course passes through. The course has changed many times in its 107 year history but the inclusion of the Ghisallo climb is a critical part of the route. The chapel at the top is dedicated to cyclists and holds much cycling memorabilia.
The Italian riders are always motivated for this race but the Irishman, Dan Martin, will likely be on form to defend his 2014 title and the Tifosi always provide a great atmosphere on the Ghisallo, the ‘holyiest’ of all climbs on the European circuit.
Giro d’Italia: TORINO- MILANO, Stage 21
The final stage of the Giro, takes the peloton into Milan, which is where our Operations Service Course is based. The general classification will be all but determined but the city will receive the riders like heroes after the long 4 weeks battling it out on the road. We’ll return to Milan again in earnest, and to it’s famous lakes, when they host the Giro di Lombardia in October, signalling the finale of the racing season.
Until 2012 Milan was more or less solid finish ground for the Giro. The caravan came to a halt in fashionista paradise for no less than 82 times. In 2012, the Giro ended with a time trial and whilst home rider Marco Pinotti took the stage Canadian Ryder Hesjedal took the pink jersey, besting his rival Joaquim Rodríguez in a battle for seconds. The 2015 edition will see a battle for glory with the fast men aiming for a final win.
Ride the best routes in Italy with La Fuga, check out our Autumn tours and live the Giro.