Few of the ‘electric cyclists’ managed to take in the beauty of this second starting city of Giro-E 2022, Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto. A pity, because there was plenty to see, first and foremost the Seme d’arancia (the Orange Seed), a sculpture by Emilio Isgrò, a homage to the artist’s hometown and a symbol of the social-civil rebirth of the Mediterranean nations. No, they were all focused on their bikes, on tweaking their saddle set-ups, and on the team presentations by the official Giro-E speaker, Luca Della Porta. Yet it’s also little moments like these that make this ‘electric Giro’ so engaging, ensuring every rider experiences every stage as a protagonist, that they get the same sensations as the pros who fight it out in the Giro d’Italia.
The Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto – Messina stage
60 kilometres of waterfront, flat as the pancake-like Po Valley, a mere 550 metres of elevation gain. Yet a 1-star difficulty rating doesn’t make it easy: there are still some devilish climbs and miles of sun-kissed asphalt to master. In short, the sort of challenges that make cycling so addictive.
As it nears the finish, this stage of the Giro-E intercepts the Giro d’Italia route, when – after crossing Sicily from coast to coast – it drops down onto the coastal road to Messina. A perfect stage for sprinters, as far as the top contenders are concerned at least. Today, though, most of the Giro-E cyclists can take it easy and soak up the sun: tougher days will come soon enough, as the race heads north.
The hope is, though, that when they hit the finish line, they’ll at least devote themselves to the local food and wine. After all, this is Sicily: a paradise for cyclists, culture vultures and… foodies! Messina’s cuisine draws on Greek influences, which obviously means fish. But when it comes to the right food for replenishing the energy expended on the bike, in Messina you just have to bite into those delicious stuffed Sicilian rice balls, the famous Arancini! The Messina variety are cone-shaped as per eastern Sicilian tradition, but with a filling based on meat sauce with peas, soft cheese, ham or mortadella, all in a tasty rice wrap, normally prepared with saffron. A delicacy to be enjoyed with gusto.
Rider of the day – Gibilisco
You could say he’s playing at home today. Well, almost: Giuseppe Gibilisco, world pole vault champion in Saint-Denis in 2003 and Olympic bronze medallist in Athens in 2004, was actually born in Siracusa. Today he pedalled with the cheery Giro-E peloton.
“I fell in love with cycling when Pantani came along”, he says. “Watching him do those crazy climbs to the soundtrack of De Zan’s legendary commentary, it was thrilling. Even when I was pole-vaulting I still went cycling, on the racer and the mountain bike. Now I go more for the MTB: it’s perfect for discovering those out-of-the-way places in the hills and mountains. It’s just so good to ride into the midst of nature. And an e-bike lets you go almost anywhere, even if you’re no athlete. With cycling, it’s all about steady effort, with pole vaulting you put all the effort into an instant. But that’s what makes all sport beautiful. Sport in a word? Life. Sport is life. I build every day around sport, I do at least an hour of it. It might be athletics, paddleboarding, parachuting… whatever. Sports lovers have a different outlook on life, they have fun, they smile”.
Next update tomorrow, stage 3 of Giro-E, from Paola to Scalea.
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