The race is like Paris-Roubaix with gravel road climbs. The Strade Bianche means white roads and the finish is in Siena the location of the Palio Horse Race. The coverage on the videos is from the RAI broadcast. Davide Cassani and Ario Bulbarelli really know how to comment on cycling. It’s worth learning Italian just to listen to their commentary.
Last October a new cycling Classic emerged combining some of the epic conditions of Paris-Roubaix with the golden age of Italian cycling’s history. In the 1950s when cycling was the king of sports in Italy due to the epic battles between Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali cycling was much grittier (literally) than today’s sport. Long distances with no support on mostly gravely or loose stone roads. Distances would routinely touch 300km or so and races would start in the early mornings. Cycling in Post-War times was much different than today. With the rich Italian history The Monte Paschi Eroica (not Erotica get that mind out of the gutter or check out the Elisa Basso pics) get today’s pro cyclist out in conditions of old. RCS Sport the Giro organizers are also responsible for this race.
Italian cycling took a blow when Ivan Basso was not allowed to start the Tour de France. Since then it has been numerous second places by Lampre riders such as Commesso, Bennati, Ballan and Cunego. The traditionally strong country could not get a win. Matteo Tossato today finally got the win for Italy ahead of Christian Moreni and a pursing Manuel Quinzato. The tifosi can rest knowing that Italy will not be shut out of this Tour de France.
Tosatto also got a stage win for Quick Step, who were left without star Tom Boonen as the race hit the Alps. Tosatto was part of Petacchi’s Fassa Bortolo team last year and now moved to Quick Step to provide the same service to Boonen. Tosatto wanted to impress his new employers.
“It’s my first year at QuickStep and it’s pretty important to win here. You are not really a pro until you win a stage on the Tour.”
(Damiano Cunego will scope out the Tour course just to get a taste)
The Italian contingent looks fairly strong in a race that traditionally is not a high priority. Twenty four Italians ranging from the oldest Giovanni Lombardi at 37 years old to Ricardo Ricco at 23 years old. Paolo Savoldelli and Ivan Basso are contenders for overall victory and several Italians such as Danilo DiLuca, Paolo Bettini and Stefano Garzelli will be hunting for stage wins. Sprinter Daniele Bennati will try to contest the sprints and possibly go for the Green Jersey against the like of Boonen, McEwen and Hushovd. Here is the list of Italians.
One of the most popular search terms on this site is Ivan Basso’s sister, or Elisa Basso. I don’t remember writing about Basso’s lovely sister much, so I did some research and found a good (safe for work) video to post on my site. Now, those searching for Elisa Basso will get a result that won’t leave them sour.
Hmmm, if this is popular then maybe I will join Bicirace and Pez in setting up some sort of cycling babe section. Or not.
YouTube has removed the video. Darn, next time I will have to save it locally. This is one of the most popular pages on the site. In the meantime, here are some choice pics of Elisa Basso. Including one that is NSFW.
Cyclingnews’ Italia Bici mini site is up and it offers some very cool insights into some Italian bike companies. The most stunning feature is the Pirana bike that was designed and built for Roberto Visentini who won the Giro D’Italia that year. Visentini who was a climber had to contend with powerful passista Francesco Moser and the dominating Bernard Hinault. Battaglin came up with a radical design that helped shave 3 second per kilometer. The radicallly bubbled front wheel was not the only oddity. The bike was one of the first carbon fibre monocoques created. Carbon development was still in it’s infancy for bikes, so the monocoque did not have the same weight savings and was very expensive.
Unfortunately, the Pirana was never pedalled in anger since the race jury deemed that Visentini would have an unfair advantage, so they had to nix the bike.
The article says that both the frame and fork are carbon, but that fork looks like a cromoly Columbus fork to me. Carbon doesn’t usually have a chrome finish. Plus a thin carbon fork circa 1985 would act much like a wet noodle.
Davide Rebellin captured the triple in 2004 by winning the Amstel Gold Race, Liege-Bastongne-Liege and Fleche Wallone. He is one of Italy’s top one-day riders and had great form going into the Olympics and the World Championships that year.
Unfortunaelty he was not on Franco Ballerini’s radar to join either team. Feeling disgruntled, he decided that he should try to ride the World Championships for another country. Davide “The Rebel” Rebellin had some relative somewhere that made it seem feasable to switch nationalities in time for the Worlds. Small problems arose as Rebby had to actually visit the county at some point and spend some time there.
Argentina is not like visiting Switzerland or Portugal, it take a while to get there from Italy. The Argentinian Rancheros love their beef which is cheap and plentiful. This diet-although tasty-does not agree with the slight almost waifish figure that a man such as Rebellin has to maintain.
Seems like the process of becoming Argentinian for one race was going to be more complicated that originally thought, so no Worlds for Davide in 2004 or even 2005.
In 2005 “The Rebel’s” only result was a stage win in the Brixia Tour which is very paltry when you are one of the more fearsome small Italian one-day races whose name is not Paolo Bettini. A change is necessary, so Rebby will give up on becoming an Argentinian and focus on staying Italian. Rebellin will be focusing on getting some good results in the spring classics in 2006 and is now talking to Franco Ballerini about getting one of the coveted spots on the Italian World’s team for Salzburg. It helps that Rebellin can get up steep hills quick as the German Worlds looks to be one for the climbers.
Rebellini has not been too fond of Grand Tours as he rode the Giro last year but only lasted one week. He will give the race another try this year to see how things go. His main goal is to win a stage and to capture the Maglia Rosa which he last wore ten long years ago.
Most of the 2006 itineraries are coming out for the top riders. Damiano Cunego will be riding the Clasica de Almeria in Spain on February 26th and AleJet Petacchi will be staying closer to home at the Gp Costa degli Etruschi on February 4th.
Cunego is currently training in Siracuse, Sicily trying to get some good weather and stay relatively close to home. He will be there until January 13th.
Petacchi is currently training in the Livorno region. After his early season debut he will head over to Spain for the Ruta del Sol where he will match up against World Champion Tom Boonen. Cunego early season
Two names that have been in the pro peloton for years risk an early retirement or a year off of the bike. The Sony-Ericssson debacle has left these two without a contract and at this point in the off-season, not much hope on getting on a large team. Roberto Petito formerly of Fassa-Bortolo and a 13 year veteran of the Pro Peloton and Fabio Baldato a 15 year veteran will be hoping to maybe catch back on with a team where they can help younger riders. Other riders that may be left out of the loop include Alessandro Bertolini, Massimo Codol and Massimo Giunti.