In Flanders, cycling is sacred. For every road, there is a bike route running right alongside it. So, what better tribute to this region's culture of cycling than the Tour of Flanders?
The stage of the Giro d’Italia 2021 taking the riders from Sacile to Cortina d’Ampezzo is a 212-km long stretch that ties cycling in the 21st century to the unforgettable riders of the previous century.
The Giro d’Italia experienced the majesty of the Dolomites for the first time in 1937, and that time Gino Bartali won solo in Merano.
The first time riders ascended the Pordoi Pass —this year’s Cima Coppi—the stage ended in Ortisei and Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi crossed the finish line in first and second place, alone. It was 5 June 1940, and four days later, the Campionissimo won his first Giro d’Italia.
When a stage of the Giro finally ended in Cortina beneath the majestic peaks of Monte Cristallo and Tofana di Rozes, Fausto Coppi was the first to cross the finish line, in an edition that featured plenty of disputes, and that saw Fiorenzo Magni don the final pink jersey in Milan.
The very names of these exceptional athletes reveal how much glory has travelled these roads.
This stage even reconciles a historical diatribe of great Italian cycling. The first kilometres of the fraction lead from Sacile to Colle Umberto, places that for almost a century have vied for the glory of calling Ottavio Bottecchia their own, an incredible phenomenon during the era of the “Forzati della Strada” (convicts of the road).
The great rider’s spirit still pedals along the winding roads to Pian del Cansiglio: the first single-day King of the Mountains. As a boy on the Cansiglio, Bottecchia carried logs down the mountain and, as a champion, he came here to train because, for some reason, the climbs reminded him of the Pyrenees.
But the landscape itself is unforgettable at every single kilometre of the stage.
The views are wonderful after just ten kilometres, but impossible as it may seem, they just get more and more beautiful as you climb.
Alleghe, Sottoguda, Malga Ciapela, Canazei, Sass Pordoi, Arabba, the incomparable view of the Dolomites above the Giau Pass and then the final descent toward the “Queen of the Dolomites”: Cortina d’Ampezzo.
A single bike ride offers so many cycling, landscape and tourism opportunities. From Ottavio Bottecchia’s home to the town on which Monte Cristallo reflects the sun.
These are 212 kilometres you’re not likely to forget.
THE BIKE OF THIS ARTICLE
Wilier 0 SLR – Black, White – Matt
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