HEADER

FIRENZE – BAGNA DI ROMANA

The opportunity to navigate the Corsa Rosa before the peloton comes through is exhilarating, occasionally treacherous, but always fun-filled. Tifosi are either lining the streets or painting them, locals are already out in anticipation of the race and always on hand to shout encouragement: 'Vai, vai!' And the entire hierarchy of Italian police, each with their unique and detailed uniforms, gesticulate in a manner only they have the answer to.

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CHIANTI CLASSICO

The Chianti is one Italy's most decorated wine regions, but simply drinking its grapes is to stop short of the full sensory experience on offer in this region of Tuscany. A feast for the eyes and the mouth, it also also some of the bel paese's best cycling country and home to the legend that is Gino Bartali. During World War II, Bartali bravely used his fame and notable standing within the country to help Jews who were being persecuted by the Nazis.

Read the Bartali Story.

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THE ITALIAN RIVIERA

You may have the universe if I may have Italy – Verdi
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CASTELLANIA - OROPA (BIELE) MONTAGNA PANTANI

Yet another stage littered with legend. Catellania is the birth place of none other than Black Sheep's anointed Everyday Hero Fausto Coppi (read the Coppi story). It also plays home to the museum dedicated to his life and is the final resting place of Il Campionissimo.

It's the stage finish, though, that's infamous. Santurio di Oropa is where, in 1999, Marco Pantani, still remembered with great fervour by the Italians, dropped his chain on the approach to the climb and had to stop to put it back on.

Chasing back to the leaders would have been impressive, but Il Pirata wanted more. He eventually surged past leader Laurent Jalabert, won the stage and retained the Maglia Rosa. Days later a UCI haematic test would mark the beginning of the tragic end to Pantani's life.

Read the Pantani Story.

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“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

—Jack Kerouac

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