A special 'PedalAru' event was organised in his home town of Villacidro, in the heart of the Italian island, with over a thousand people reportedly turning up to take part in two different rides with Aru and enjoy an end of season celebration. Aru left Sardinia when he was a teenager to live and race in the Lombardy region. He now lives in Lugano, Switzerland and travelled to Sardinia with his partner Valentina, Astana teammate Paolo Tiralongo and Astana directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the event marked the end of Aru's 2015 season and he happily tucked into a plate of roast pork: the local delicacy in Sardinia. He spent more than 200 days away from home this season, racing for 71 days and spending long spells at altitude in the Italian Alps. Aru finished second behind Alberto Contador at the Giro d'Italia and then won the Vuelta a Espana after going on the attack in the final mountain stage to take the leader's red jersey from Tom Dumoulin. He finished second overall in the Abu Dhabi Tour last Sunday behind Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge).
Aru proudly waved the Sardinia Four Moors flag after taking the lead at the Vuelta a Espana.
"It's always great to return to Sardinia, I haven't been back since January," Aru told Gazzetta dello Sport. "It's a quick visit but it's been really enjoyable. I hope that this PedalAru event is the first of many and that my success can help cycling develop and become more popular on the island. It'd be great if we could bring back the Giro dl Sardegna and that the Giro d'Italia returns in the next few years."
"I've often spoken to a crowd but this is the first time I know everyone I can see. It's great to look around and see so many of the people I know from home. When I'm away and perhaps suffering on a climb, the thought that everybody is cheering for me back home gives me extra motivation."
Aru revealed he is about to go on holiday for three weeks in a secret destination, before joining up with his Astana teammate for a winter get together in November. Team manager Alexandre Vinokourov has hinted that Aru may make his debut at the Tour de France in 2016, with teammate Vincenzo Nibali focusing on the Giro d'Italia and the Olympic Games.