In its pure form, cycling is epic, and in Italy cycling goes hand in hand with the Giro d’Italia. Where sweat and suffering (“No talk and all battle”, said the cyclist Felice Gimondi) are combined with folkloristic, widespread cheering: the Italians come down to the street all along the peninsula during the Giro, touching and chasing their heroes, inciting them and pushing them – even physically – to the finish line. When speaking about the Giro, the Italian poet Alfonso Gatto wrote: “It is a marvelous human race, its finish line is happiness”.
The Giro is held annually in late spring and is considered the hardest race in the world: this year its route climbs and descends along 3.578,8 kilometers divided into 21 stages, with its departure in the city of Bologna and arrival in the Verona Arena. But it is also the geographical and social mirror of the country that is five times as long as its width, Italy: “Neapolitans and Turinese, those from Lombardy and Lazio, Veneto and Emilia, all Italians, see the Giro each year as a mirror in which to recognize and smile at themselves” wrote the leading Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport when presenting the 1946 edition, the first after the war. This year will be the 102nd annual Giro, but it has not changed: the race still turns Italians into children, who are still excited to come down to the streets wearing pink (the same color of La Gazzetta dello Sport which invented the race in 1909), excited for the escape from the daily grind and ready to shout, “Forza Marco Pantani” again. Pantani won the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France together twenty years ago, and said: “For me, fatigue in the mountains is like poetry”.
Photos by Giacomo Acunzo – Simone Bergamaschi – Alessandro Iovino – Simone Raeli – Federico Sutera – Serena Vittorini