Giro Rosa ??
June 14-18 2021
EVENT DATE START or FINISH LOCALE
PRO RACE CALENDAR
You'd think that in a region where there's so much passion for cycling, there would be many pro men's and women's races, but unfortunately that's not the case. The Adriatica-Ionica stage race held in 2018 and 2019 (which hopefully will return in 2021) is actually the only one. (There are many U23 races however). Before the world championships were moved to October, the Trittico Veneto (a three race series), followed by the Giro del Veneto (a one day race), were used as national team selection races. It was a real holiday for cycling fans; we were treated to seeing the pros race for four days in many of the areas and on the small country roads that are dear to the hearts of all Veneto cyclists. The series continued even after the worlds' schedule change, but then sponsorship money dwindled and in 1996 the Trittico became a "Bittico"--just two races, and in 1997 there were no races at all, not even the Giro del Veneto. The latter race returned in 1998, but the Trittico Veneto is just a fond, bittersweet, memory, as is the Giro del Veneto, a semi-classic whose origins went way back to 1912.
Past winners of the Giro del Veneto include many of cycling's greats: Girandengo, Binda, Magni, Coppi, De Vlaeminck, Saronni, Moser, Argentin, De Luca, Bartoli, Rebellin, Simoni, and Pozzato.
After three years of finishing in Thiene (Vicenza province), the Giro del Veneto returned to tradition in 2008, much to the delight of Paduan cyclists and fans. The race departed from the piazza in front of Saint Anthony's Basilica, went through the Euganean Hills, and finished in Prato della Valle, a large piazza in the center of Padua. In 2010 it started in Padua and finished in Castelfranco Veneto (not a particularly scenic, interesting, or challenging course). The Giro del Veneto was not held in 2011 because the organizers did not have the funds to put on a top-notch event. It returned in 2012, but was combined with another race, the Coppa Placci, and finished in Imola. It was not held in 2013 due to financial difficulties, and the organizers (Ciclisti Padovani) said, "Never again."
I have many great memories of the Giro del Veneto, which was always the highlight of my summer. Before the start, you were free to walk among the ammiraglie (team cars) and take photos of your favorite riders, collect autographs, and enjoy the exciting atmosphere. Two editions stand out in my memory. In 1998, while heading to the race, I ran into my beloved mechanic, Renzo Bertocco, and we rode up to Rovolon to see the riders pass. We found ourselves next to the wife of pro who was in the race. She told us that he had been excited to be on Lance Armstrong's team, but quickly found out, to his great disappointment, what an obnoxious person Lance was. That would be the only time that Renzo and I would ever ride together. I continued on alone to see the race again on the fearsome Roccolo climb, which I had to ride up between two rows of spectators closing in on the roadway. I was at my absolute limit, and then a doofus riding down, fell in my path. Fortunately, spectators pulled him out of my way just in time! When I got to the top I heard someone calling my name. It was noneother than my dear friend Mario, who had ridden all the way down from home near Asolo, and nearby I discovered my friend Ivana and her husband..
The other memorable year was 2005, when a sudden fierce thunderstorm sent the fans on the Ca' Vecchia climb (above Zugliano) running for cover. I huddled under a little roof with some fellow cyclists, while lightning flashed and struck nearby, thunder boomed, rain fell in buckets, and the wind turned umbrellas inside out and sent vendors' wares scattering. The temperatures dropped and fortunately I'd brought along warm clothes and rain gear; some cyclist spectators didn't even have jackets. After the race, as I was riding back down, some guys at a food stand called out to me, offering me a salami sandwich and a glass of wine. They said I was the only woman who had ridden all the way to the top of the steep little climb. Two years later they remembered me, and gave me TWO sandwiches and a FEW cups of wine! Luckily I made it down in one piece! I missed the 2008 edition due to a broken ankle. In 2009 I watched the race on the Castelnovo climb in the Colli Euganei, in the company of my friends Dario, an ex-pro, Bill, owner of Your Cycling Italia, and his son Steven, and David, an American residing in Padua, whom I'd met online. Little did I know that it would be the last time I or anyone else would ever see the race.