L’Eroica is a 200km cyclosportive that relives the past glories of cycle racing. L’Eroica means ‘The Heroic’ [Ride], and you’d have to be exactly that as the event prefers competitors to ride a vintage bike in period costume. Innovative multi-panel clothing and carbon components are allowed, but riders with them are not eligible for one of the prizes awarded to ‘period’ riders.
A large part of the appeal of the event is the course: much of it uses the strade bianche, or ‘white roads’, that are a feature of the mountains around the Chianti region of Tuscany. Scarred with pot-holes, riddled with ruts and covered in loose gravel and with clouds of white dust being kicked up by the riders, they’re a challenging prospect.
While this event has been running for 10 years, 2007 saw the first staging of a pro race on the same roads. The first edition of the 180km Monte Paschi Eroica was won by 26-year-old Alexandr Kolobnev, with his CSC team mate Marcus Ljungqvist finishing second. Mikhaylo Khalilov of Ceramica Flaminia rounded out the top three.
“It was a fantastic and very special race,” said Kolobnev. “I actually wouldn’t count myself among the riders, who’re able to do well in this kind of race, but my form is simply brilliant at the moment. I also want to thank my teammates for all their hard work. I’m very happy with this victory.”
“It was a very strong team effort throughout the day even though it began badly, when Lars Bak, Andy and Fränk Schleck never made it to start, because they were unable to get a flight from Luxembourg due to fog. Luckily Anders Lund was able to step in at short notice and he delivered a solid effort just like the other members of the team,” said CSC Directeur Sportif Kim Andersen.
The reactions to the race have been so favourable that there has been talk of running the event in March in order to offer Italian pros a means of building form for the Northern Classics, without having to travel to Belgium prior to events such as Het Volk. In fact, the Chianti mountains are notorious for severe weather in winter, and may offer more of a challenge than expected.
Report on l’Eroica
cyclosportive on RCUK soon.