What better way to start an adventure than with a bang? Like the cork out of a champagne bottle, inaugurating an evening in which the best, of course, is yet to come!
Welcome to Giro-E 2022, the fourth edition of a now-tried-and-tested event that remains the world’s only major stage race to be ridden on pedal assist electric bikes. From now on, though, let’s call them by their real name: e-road bikes… racing bikes with a battery-powered motor. In 2017 they were still virtually inexistent, yet here we are, just five years on, and they now account for a far-from-negligible slice of the market. The boom has partly been fuelled by Giro-E, which has been a real driving force behind this new way of looking at road bikes: motors as sensation-amplifiers, experience-generators that let us go where our legs otherwise might not let us.
The Adrano – Etna – Nicolosi stage
Stage 1: Adrano – Etna-Nicolosi. What more could you ask for? A four-star 48.5 kilometre route, 1700 metres of elevation gain, a climb that’s a cycling legend and a Sicilian icon. Etna. A Muntagna. Europe’s biggest volcano, a towering 3,340 meters high. No less ‘gigantic’ is this climb. It simply doesn’t let up: from Santa Maria di Licodia to Rifugio Sapienza, it piles on the pain (yep, even with that motor). It soars through a lunar landscape, which the Giro lights up a bright pink, bringing explosive life to a place where the volcano often keeps life at bay! And as always, it’s nature that makes the rules, not man. This is a stage where you can start off in sunshine and summit in the midst of snow or storms. Luckily, though, not today.
From a cycling perspective, the first 17 kilometres are almost all downhill. However, once the Giro d’Italiaroute is intercepted, it steepens sharply for the next breath-taking 31 km. As in 2018 (the first Giro-E, when the event was in its infancy), the climb starts in Ragalna before passing over to the classic Nicolosi side of the mountain for the final 14 kilometres. Average gradient 6 percent, maximum 14: nothing impossible, but the length – and the relentlessness – makes it a tough nut to crack.
Rider of the day – Lo Cicero
When he used to play rugby for Italy, he’d get the whole country dreaming of victory. Today, though, he took on the Mount Etna climb with the RCS Sport team, as ambassador of the Legend of Sport and Health project.
“I’m often out on the bike, sometimes the traditional one, sometimes the electric,” says ‘the Baron’. “Living in the countryside, I ride both a road bike and, of course, an MTB. I always select the ECO setting so I can go further and get a great workout in the process. Thanks to cycling, I’ve lost a whopping 27 kilos. I changed my diet and made riding a key part of my post-sports career lifestyle. As a rugby player I was a beefy 118 kilos… now I’m down to 92. I’m no climber, but I can now take on the elevation much more easily than in the past. Etna is a long, long climb, you have to conserve battery power and leg strength. If you aren’t fit you won’t be going anywhere, not even on an e-bike! It was a spectacular climb. Riding is all about passion. Like everything that gets you into the midst of nature, it’s super-cool”.
Click here to discover the rankings on the official Giro-E website