Cycling Stars Criterium
World Gravel Championships
May 24, 25, 26 2022
May 29, 2023
June 5, 2022
July 10, 2022
Oct. 7-8, 2023
Oct. 11, 2023
Oct. 13, 2023
Oct. 15, 2023
Caorle (VE). Palafavera (BL), Tre Cime (BL)
Pieve di Soligo (TV)
Vicenza > Cittadella (PD)
Padova > Vicenza
Porto Barricata (RO) > Piazzola sul Brenta (PD)
Treviso > Bassano del Grappa VI)
EVENT DATE START or FINISH LOCALE
PRO RACES IN THE TRIVENETO
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 bike mechanic, Renzo Bertocco, and we rode up to Rovolon to see the riders pass. We found ourselves standing next to the wife of a pro who was in the race. She told us that he'd been excited to be on Lance Armstrong's team, but quickly found out, to his great disappointment, what an obnoxious person Lance was, and left the team. 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 ascend between two rows of spectators who left only a narrow lane to ride on. I was at my absolute limit when a descending doofus 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 his home near Asolo, and I found my late friend Ivana and her husband nearby.
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 salame 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 Castelnuovo climb in the Colli Euganei, in the company of my friends Dario, an ex-pro, Bill, owner of Your Cycling Italia, his son Steven, and David, an American residing in Padua, whom I'd met online. Little did we know that it would be a long time before we'd see the race again. As the years passed, we thought we'd lost it forever. So thank you, Pippo Pozzato, for bringing back this venerable race, and a part of the Veneto's cycling history and tradition, and for the new events that are bringing excitement and fun to all cycling fans.
You'd probably assumed that in a region where there's so much passion for cycling, there would have always been many pro races, but incredibly, until Ride the Dreamland, that hadn't been the case for some time. (There have always been plenty of important U23 races--and teams--however). Years ago, 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 there were just two races; 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 memory.
After three years of finishing in Thiene, in 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). It wasn't run in 2011 because the organizers didn't 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, which is not even in the Veneto Region. It was not held in 2013 due to financial difficulties, and the organizers, Ciclisti Padovani, said, "Never again." It was a sad, ignoble, ending for a semi-classic whose origins went way back to 1912, and whose past winners included many of cycling's greats: Girardengo, Binda, Magni, Coppi, De Vlaeminck, Saronni, Moser, Argentin, De Luca, Bartoli, Rebellin, Simoni, and Filippo Pozzato himself.
It should be noted that in 2018, ex-world champion Moreno Argentin created the Adriatica Ionica Race (the fourth edition was run in June, 2022), which has a stage or two in the Veneto each year. It is shoddily organized and not well publicized, and as a result has garnered little interest and attention, and few spectators. (I call it the Adriatica Idiotica Race)
Cycling fans in the Veneto can thank one man for the return of professional racing to our region: none other than ex-pro Filippo "Pippo" Pozzato, a man with vision, passion, energy, and solid connections to the region's vast network of manufacturers, sponsors, organizations with experience and know-how, and towns and cities eager to host races, not to mention his own palmares as a pro.
Pozzato had already received much acclaim for his design of the 2020 national pro championship course, which featured the Veneto's own cobbled mur, the Sentiero della Tisa. His cycling events promotion company, PP Sport Events, went on to produce the Ride the Dreamland series, which includes not only the venerable, beloved, Giro del Veneto, but (on the same weekend!), La Serenissima Gravel, a first for pro riders, the VenetoGo non-competitive "social ride," and a brand new race, the Veneto Classic, which his organization aspires to have elevated to World Tour status.
The Veneto is also home to many important and historic Elite/U23 Races, which are listed on the FCI ( Italian Cycling Federation) calendar.
In 1947 Coppi made a 170 km solo breakaway and won by 8 minutes! (Magni was second). My husband and his boarding school classmates were along the roadside, and he still remembers the distinctive profile of Coppi as he sped by.
The Sentiero della Tisa, just 349 meters long (1134 ft.), but rearing up to 17%.
You either make it all the way to the top in one shot, or you dismount and push your bike the rest of the way up--not easy in cycling shoes. And falling on those rocks would really hurt!