So here we are at the Giro, and on paper, it’s one of the hardest ever editions. I haven’t actually checked the elevation gained over the course of the three weeks, but you hear huge numbers for some of the stages, like 6,000 metres of climbing.
I’ve already done a lot of Giri and I’ve done a lot of hard stages in that time, so I’m not so scared. My attitude would be, “Let’s do it day by day and see how it is.” But you can still see among the riders that some of them are scared by how tough the last week is going to be. That said, the level of cycling is so high now that I think everyone will be fit enough to take on this challenge.
The difficulty of the race will also depend quite a bit on the weather conditions. In the last two years, weather has played a really important role. When it’s either too hot or raining, it can change things a lot. Stages that can seem easier on paper can become more difficult according to the conditions, so we’ll need to be vigilant.
Resting after Romandie
Half of our team here did Romandie, so this week is a recovery week, just trying to keep the muscles loose with some training, but nothing too hard. On Monday, I did an easy day to recover, just two hours. Then on Tuesday, I had three hours with some motor pacing, but just two hours on Wednesday because I was travelling to the start.On Thursday morning we did three hours as a team. We did the first hour and a half on the road bike and then we did the second half of the ride was on our time trial bikes, and we did a few tests to make sure we get our turns right for the team time trial on Saturday. We didn’t quite go at full gas, but we did a decent pace.
The rest of the time, I’ve been trying to sleep as much as possible, both in the afternoon and at night. It’s almost like trying to store up on sleep. I try to sleep eight hours at night and then grab an hour or a nap in the afternoon, just to recover a little more. It’s something that you obviously can’t do in a race, so it’s good to try and take the opportunity this week. It’s just a small thing, an hour after lunch, but it all helps.
From Bergamo to Sicily
As an Italian rider, this is a special edition, because it is a celebration of 150 years of Italian unity. It is important for Italy as a country to find a feeling of being a country together, because there are many problems in this country. This year, with this 150th anniversary of the country, you can see that there is a real desire among the people to come together.
Even though we have many different regions, even though the nation has always been historically separated, and even though Italy might not have the best reputation abroad at the moment, it is important that people are looking to go beyond these problems and try to fix it together.
I think in the beginning, the celebration of this anniversary of Italian unification wasn’t seen as being that important, but now that it’s actually happening, you realise how significant it is. This year, if you go around the country and you see the flags everywhere, it makes you kind of feel proud to be Italian. For me, as an Italian, this Giro is even more important than usual.
I think the Giro is a particularly appropriate symbol of the unification of the Italy not just because the route covers the whole country, but also because of the things that it embodies. For instance, the Giro invites you to go out on the road and meet people. It encourages you to socialise and it brings people together. And this year, that element is more important that ever.
The start in Turin is also really significant. Not only was it the first capital of the united Italy, but this weekend, it is site of the annual celebration of the Alpini, the famous mountain brigades of the Italy army.
Last year the Alpini festivities were at the same time of the year in Bergamo, where I live, and there are hundreds of Alpini there. The Alpini is a very special corps, and every Italian is so proud of the Alpini, because when there is a particular emergency, they are there, all volunteering to help other people. Everybody is proud of this corps, so having this national meeting here in Turin makes this weekend even more special.
I have to say that it’s also a very special weekend for me personally, as I am from Bergamo. During the time of the unification of Italy, a thousand people travelled to Sicily under the command of Giuseppe Garibaldi in a bid to unify the country, and of that thousand, more than 200 were from Bergamo. So for that reason Bergamo is called the Città dei Mille, and of course I am all the more motivated by the fact that the Giro will visit Sicily as part of this year’s race.
Talk is cheap
First things first though, and right now my focus is on the team time trial on Saturday. At least ten teams have a chance of winning, because the shorter the route the more open it is. If it was longer, maybe 30km, then I am sure we would be in the top three, you could bet on it, because the team’s strength would be telling.
But on a course like the one on Saturday, which is quite short, you can’t afford to make any technical mistakes. Looking at it on paper, we have one of the strongest teams, but talk is cheap. Time to let the legs do the talking…