London’s West End was the setting today of the unveiling of what promises to be one of the signature stages of the 2016 Giro d’Italia – a 40.4 kilometre individual time trial in the heart of Chianti Classico country.
The launch of Stage 9 of the 99th edition of the race took place at the Pinarello Store on Lower Regent Street, and was hosted by the company’s chairman, Fausto Pinarello.
The retail outlet opened earlier this year, and is on the route of the final stage of the Aviva Tour of Britain next Sunday.
Giro d’Italia race director Mauro Vegni explained that London had been chosen as the city where the stage announcement took place in part because of the way the UK public has embraced cycling.
In particular, he cited last year’s Big Start of the Giro in Northern Ireland, and the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Yorkshire.
Without referencing EM Forster, or using the word ‘Chiantishire,’ he also said that while France and Italy are the heartlands of both viniculture and cycle racing, the British are catching up on both counts through their passion for cycling and wine.
The stage will start in Radda in Chianti and finish in Greve in Chianti. There’s barely a flat piece of terrain in between.
The final descent in particular will be technical and – for those wanting to win it, or trying to safeguard a place on GC – fast.
Vegni said: “This is going to be one of the most spectacular stages of the Giro 2016, both in a technical, riding respect as well as for its unique scenery.
“A 40km Individual Time Trial without a single metre of flat and almost at the middle of the race, will define for sure who the potential winners are.
“I would like to underline the landscape that we are going to show to the World through the unique TV images, as unique as the Black Rooster territory that hosts this wonderful stage.”
Also present were the mayors of both the start and finish towns, wearing the tricolore sashes that denote their office.
Backed by the Consorzio Chianti Classico, they’re looking forward to showcasing the area, and in particular to encourage cyclists from elsewhere to explore the riding it has to offer.
The stage takes place on Sunday 15 May, and while the full route of next year’s race won’t be known till next month, Vegni confided that the preceding stage will include a city in Tuscany rich in culture – take your pick from Florence, Siena or Pisa – to encourage fans to make a weekend of it.
That begs an obvious question – will the stage on the Saturday take in sections of strade bianche, the gravel roads typical of the Tuscan countryside?
When we put it to Vegni, he smiled. “It’s possible,” he said.
We think he'll forgive us for taking that as a 'yes.'
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.