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05 - 2020

May, the month of Giro d’Italia

bicycle tourism

“For me, May has been the month of the Giro since five years ago. The Giro d’Italia. Not that it wasn’t even before, but I’ve been following him for work for five years, after having traveled the world in Formula One. Before, in the direction, in Barcelona or Montecarlo, May Grand Prix, on Thursday or Friday, when there was a little more time, a monitor was connected to the Giro in progress and we suffered, we sweated together to those placed at the edge of the asphalt. Because, today as then, the Giro for me is above all that: that of those who encourage uphill, on the edge of the roadway, of those who squint their eyes at the stratospheric speed that the great ones keep on the hairpin bends of an ascent, of those who place themselves in that point because he thinks that right there will be the decisive shot, of those who, at the time, wore the portable television, seeing that the cyclists, kilometer after kilometer, in the most deafening noise around were approaching, until you see them, incredible but true , in front of your eyes and not only on the television screen.

The Giro this year would have been a bit special for me: on May 25, on the day of rest, after the Piancavallo stage, and before the San Daniele del Friuli one, the Friulian friends of WeLikeBike had prepared a special program. Two exhibitions, one dedicated to the century since the birth of Fiorenzo Magni and the other to commemorate Marco Pantani’s 50th anniversary.

But the best thing would have been (and will be, if the Giro, as I hope, takes place in October 2020) the repatriation of the 1998 Mercatone Uno, Marco’s team, who accompanied him to win Giro and Tour in the same year, after him nobody else. I contacted them one by one, cyclists, sports directors, doctors, masseurs: I already knew some of them, such as Beppe Martinelli, Marco Velo, Stefano Garzelli or Roberto Conti, but many others were faded figures over time, aged boys who had taken a lot of paths. different, the various Siboni, Traversoni, Barbero, Podenzana, Fontanelli, Borgheresi, Gianelli, Leoni, all of them, in short. With the exception of one, Riccardo Forconi, who ended up in California which made me struggle a bit to find him, the others were quite easy to catch. Easy and beautiful, because many of them are from Emilia or Romagna, and hearing them was like feeling the intense aroma of a piadina stuffed with mortadella and squacquerone or a fried dumpling with raw ham accompanied by a nice glass of lambrusco or ortrugo or malvasia. I still seem to hear them, a little amazed at what, but happy, because she had never had a reunion like that and because it would have been nice to see each other and remember Marco all together, seeing each other again in action. Also in Piancavallo, for example, where in 1998, the Pirate did an unforgettable thing. I was there too and like so many others, I first climbed the bike. Piancavallo is one of those climbs that are not very hard, but that can make a difference, especially if placed at the end of very long or very hard stages at the start, something similar to the ascent to the sanctuary of Oropa, to remain in Marco’s memory. If I’m not mistaken, it took me an hour to do it together with my friends and then I remember the satisfaction in knowing that the legendary group of Cipollini and associates would have taken a little less. Pantani was in front of everyone, followed by Tonkov and Zuelle. In that climb that is still Friuli but already knows of Veneto, the Romagna rider did something amazing, the first mighty stone of a wall called coupled Giro-Tour.

Many years have passed, yet that very brief image of him passing the last bend before reaching the area where the repeaters are, it still seems to me on my retina He sweaty, suffering, powerful and everyone around him shouting “Go! Go! Go!”. Frames that remain over time, in mine and in that of many other fans. It seemed almost impossible to find myself only six years later under the Le Rose residence in Rimini trying to quickly understand something of that absurd death, still shrouded in shadow now. Marco Pantani, that champion who went so fast uphill to shorten his agony, had just left on Valentine’s Day in 2004. But beyond that tragic death, beyond a Giro that this year May cannot be held, his memory remains, his pedaling, his Mercatone Uno, his companions who will one day come back together to relive that unique year for Italian cycling. ”


Franco Bortuzzo

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May, the month of Giro d’Italia May, the month of Giro d’Italia

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