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Stage

2

Sunday 05
May 2024

161 km
Altitude Gain 2,300 m

Starting in

D ::

San Francesco al Campo -

Santuario di Oropa

(Biella)

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technical info

Challenging stage featuring the first summit finish. The pink caravan will cross the Canavese and Biellese areas, touching on Valdengo and the Oasi Zegna, to then climb the legendary Oropa climb from the classic Biella side. The 150-kilometre long route rises at 6.2% to the line in the last 11.8 kilometres.

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San Francesco al Campo



Overview

The town lies at the meeting point between the metropolitan area of north-western Turin, the plain that leads to the Lanzo Valleys and the morainic plateau entering the Canavese area. It is a municipality with an ancient agricultural tradition which has grown remarkably over the years, following the fate of numerous other towns in the province of Turin. Its proximity to the latter (about 20 km) has unquestionably favoured its development, welcoming over the years several families who chose to move out of the crowded city. The Sandro Pertini airport is located just out of town. Despite its small size, the municipality boasts a very active social and cultural network, with numerous sports, educational and recreational associations. Since 1996, it has been home to the Velodromo Francone (Francone Velodrome), a point of reference for cycling as well as the headquarters of the Centro federale di Avviamento alla Pista.

Local Cusine

The typical product for which this town is known throughout the region is ‘L Canaveis’ panettone, produced by a historic artisan workshop in San Francesco al Campo. It is a traditional Piedmontese panettone, therefore slightly lower than the Lombard version, glazed and baked according to a very special recipe that has made it an exclusive and particularly sought-after Christmas cake for decades.
In addition to this local product, the town – thanks to its position straddling three areas (Torinese, Valli di Lanzo and Canavese) – offers a wide range of typical products, from Torcetti di Lanzo to Paste di Meliga (cornflour cookies) and the now widespread Pusa, the Piedmontese herbal liqueur (so-called “Amaro”) made with extracts and natural aromas typical of the area, such as genepy, serpyll thyme, chamomile, lavender, sage and mint.

Points of Interest

The Francone Velodrome in San Francesco al Campo was built in 1996 thanks to an important donation by a generous local benefactor – Commendator Pietro Francone, after whom the facility is named – and to the coordinated and successful commitment of the then Società Ciclistica Commendator Francone (now Velodromo Francone ASD), the Italian Cycling Federation, the Piedmont Region and the Municipality of San Francesco al Campo.
Since its foundation, the facility has grown rapidly and steadily, hosting increasingly important national and international events and becoming a reference point for cycling in the North-West as well as a driving force for the entire territory, a hub for the development of win-win opportunities between institutions, associations, entrepreneurs and cultural bodies in the region. Last but definitely not least, the Velodrome is a training venue and for young future talents.
Since 1997, just one year after its foundation, the Velodromo Francone has been hosting and managing the Centro federale di Avviamento alla Pista, in collaboration with the Italian Cycling Federation and the FCI Piedmont Committee. Since then, every year, young athletes from various Piedmont’s sports clubs train and learn here under the guidance of highly qualified instructors and coaches.

Santuario di Oropa (Biella)



Overview

The origins of this sanctuary, which stands at an altitude of 1,200 metres, are extremely ancient: it served first a place of passage and later a place of devotion for pilgrims who climbed all the way up here to pray before the statue of the Black Virgin.
The Savoy family, for whom Oropa held great symbolic and devotional importance, called in the greatest court architects to transform the ancient church into the most amazing Marian sanctuary in the Alps.
The monumental complex is located in a natural setting of extraordinary beauty, within a Regional Nature Reserve that also includes the Sacro Monte di Oropa, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The sanctuary is about 11 km from Biella, a city located at the foot of the Biellese Alps and dating back to the early Middle Ages. Dominated first by the bishops of Vercelli and then by the Savoy family, Biella underwent extensive urban and industrial development in the 19th century, becoming known for its textile industries.
Biella developed on several levels, coherently reflecting its history: the Piazzo, located on a hill (480m above sea level) that can be reached by means of a funicular railway, is the oldest part of the city and retains the characteristics of a medieval village with access gates and cobbled streets winding between noble palaces.
The urban centre dates back to Roman times and still preserves important monuments from different periods, including the Baptistery and bell tower, both Romanesque, and the Renaissance church of Saint Sebastian, all architectural gems set in an elegant context resulting from 19th-century urban development.
Along the Cervo stream are monuments of industrial archaeology, many of which have now been transformed into cultural centres.

Local Cusine

The local cuisine is distinctly Piedmontese, supported by nationally and internationally renowned companies and many small producers who keep the local tradition alive. Biella’s “enoLocal cusine” is rightfully counted among the excellences of this region.
Among the best known cheeses is Toma, a hard, cow’s milk cheese of ancient Alpine tradition. It is produced both with whole milk (Maccagno type) and partially skimmed milk. Toma cheeses from the valleys around Biella have the D.O.C. mark awarded by the Piedmont Region. These cheeses are also the main ingredients for two delicious local dishes: ‘pulenta cunscia’, a soft maize cream cooked at length in the pot, with plenty of local cheese and tasty farmhouse butter melted in it, and ‘ris an cagnùn’, with toma cheese and butter sautéed.
Some of the most popular cured meats of the area are the ‘salam ‘d l’ula’, i.e. preserved in fat, made with pork, salt, pepper and sometimes red wine. Also characteristic are the ‘salam ‘d vaca’, i.e. made from beef, the ‘salam d’asu’ made from donkey meat and those made from goat meat.
More localised is the production of ‘salam ‘d patata’, in which boiled potatoes and a little blood are added to the mixture, or the ‘paletta di Coggiola’, a shoulder ham flavoured with salt and pepper, stuffed into a bladder and air-dried.
There is no shortage of sweets in Biella: ‘torcetti’ are leavened, crumbly, oval-shaped biscuits. The ‘paste ‘d melia’ are biscuits made with maize flour. Canestrelli are fragrant wafers with chocolate and hazelnuts.
The wide variety of flowers in the area enables the production of a wide range of honey types: acacia, chestnut, linden, rhododendron, dandelion and millefiori, to name but the most popular.

Wine and other drinks

The Biellese waters are famous for their exceptional lightness.
Biella also boasts a high quality beer and the oldest active brewery in Italy, as well as many accolades for the numerous microbreweries located in the area.
Among the local wines, one D.O.C.G. must be mentioned: Erbaluce di Caluso, a straw-yellow wine, with a fine scent reminiscent of wild flowers and a dry, fresh and characteristic flavour. Red wine is also represented, with 4 D.O.C. wines: Bramaterra, Lessona, Canavese and Coste della Sesia, ruby red wines with a characteristic and intense aroma and a dry, harmonious flavour.
Worthy of special mention is the Ratafià di Andorno, made from the alcoholic maceration of wild cherries, according to a 500-year-old recipe.

Points of Interest

The area is characterised by great environmental variety, mixing natural and historical richness.
The Biella old town centre offers the Museo del Territorio Biellese (Museum of the Biellese Territory) and the Museum of the City of Biella, which collects items from the entire territory, from Viverone to Lago della Vecchia, from Bessa to Monte Rubello. A visit to the museum, located inside the Cloister of the Basilica of Saint Sebastian, allows visitors to take a journey through time from prehistory to the 20th century.
Also worth a visit is the Cathedral dedicated to Biella’s patron saint, Saint Stephen, built in the city’s oldest section. Next to the Cathedral stands one of the most significant examples of Romanesque art in Piedmont: the Baptistery, built on a Roman burial ground.
The City of Biella and the municipality of Pollone are home to the Burcina Park, which extends over the slopes of a hill at 826 metres above sea level and became a Special Nature Reserve in 1980.
Other nature parks in the immediate vicinity are: the ‘Oasi Zegna‘ protected area in Trivero, 100 square kilometres of open-access nature area in the Biella Alps. The ‘Bessa Special Reserve‘, one of the largest open-cast gold mines dating from the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, 10 square kilometres located in the municipalities between Biella and Ivrea. Candelo, one of the best-preserved medieval fortified structures in Piedmont.
Lake Viverone is just over 20 km away. This is a lake of glacial origin located on the border between Biella and Turin and fed mainly by groundwater. It is partly surrounded by settlements such as Viverone, a tourist town for holidays and excursions and an ideal destination for birdwatching and water sports.

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