Roughly 400 years ago William Shakespeare published his version of Romeo and Juliet, a story of tragic love. The tale was set in Verona, Italy and as we all know the end brought the fateful demise of both lovers. Fast-forward to the year 2013 and a short 25km drive from Verona to Castelnuovo del Garda another love story unfolds, this one of the flourishing love between food, friends, and cycling.
“In fair Castelnuovo, where we lay our scene.”
Weaving between rows upon rows of grapevines and kiwi vines a hilly vineyard was the perfect venue for the Coppa Cobram cyclocross race. The course featured steep grass and gravel climbs, fast straits, barriers, and a few treacherous turns that provided 45 minutes of non-stop entertainment for spectators. Riders awoke on Sunday morning to a heavy downpour that would saturate the course, swelling puddles and creating mud pits throughout. By 9:30am however the rains had ceased and even the sun decided to come out for the event.
Riders congregated at the workshop of frame builder Tiziano Zullo and were meet with a breakfast of grilled polenta with gorgonzola cheese and soppressa. Around 10am riders rolled to the course with a brisk ride through the countryside and arrived to the racecourse with legs ready to ride.
The start or the race featured a motocross style start with 90 riders lined up side by side at the top of a pasture, this 100meter line of riders would be funneled through a 3 meter wide opening at the other side of the short pasture. About 10 riders made the hole shot and were able to proceed avoiding the traffic jam that commenced. By the first lap a group of seven riders were in a strong lead.
These riders would battle it out over the duration of the race, some falling off the lead pack while others were forced out due to mechanical troubles. The wet course was remarkably fast, but with enough mud and slippery sections to make it interesting. One of the most challenging features of the course was the notorious “Curvone Cinelli” a sharp right hand off camber turn at the bottom of a descent with a large Cinelli banner that prevented riders from sliding off the course.
Some riders inched their way down the hill and took the turn with caution while others barreled down and took the turn in a moto cross style slide, a few unlucky riders even took the turn sliding on their rear ends! At the end of the race Andrea Pirazzoli overtook the leader of the pack at the final turn to secure the win in the men’s category, while ultra-fast Elena Martinello of Team Zullo and Biciclista won the women’s category with a comfortable lead.
To finish the day riders returned to the Zullo workshop to enjoy a lunch of two kinds of risotto (pumpkin and risotto tastasal), grilled meat, along with beer and wine that was enjoyed for hours. Forget Romeo and Juliet, if you want to witness a real story of love and passion I invite you to an Italian Singlespeed event. People passionate about what they love to do, surrounding themselves with good food, good friends, and all having a great time. A huge thank you to Zullo, Legor Cycles, the good folks at singlespeed-italy.com, the wonderful Los Lobos, and everyone else involved in putting on this wonderful event. Congratulations to the winners and see you all in Piacenza on December 8th for the next race.
Words: The Sac Pics: Martino Vincenzi